American singer-songwriter Tim Easton’s tenth album You Don’t Really Know Me is billed as “a recovery album”; somewhere along the way “things got blurry”, and Easton grew attached to the wild lifestyle of a traveling musician, leading to burned bridges and broken relationships. The album shines a light on what he considers his “fall from grace” and subsequent climb back to stability, expressing the gratitude that arrives after such an experience.
These ideas are best encapsulated in the folk-blues of “Real Revolution”, with Easton making a compelling argument that “real revolution does not have to be the violent kind/real revolution takes place in your heart and in your mind”. The music and message is direct and to the point, influenced by flat-pickers, folksingers, Doc Watson and Woody Guthrie, an “honest sound” honed from early years busking around Europe (his first release was 1993’s Goody Boy, 14 songs recorded in Prague, previously only available on cassette but now available via his Patreon page).
Easton says his recovery was not only “from a vice, but also recovery from a divorce and a destructive, rambling life of self-centered gratification”. Much of the album reflects this: the caffeinated folk-rock anthem “Speed Limit” deals with “the pain of staying the same”; “You Don’t Really Know Me” progresses through the blues imagery of being “born by a raging river” to a lifetime of learning from mistakes; the musically breezy “Peace Of Mind” reflects that “nobody wants to wake up angry, nobody wants to go bed insane”. “Anchor”, co-written and performed with American singer songwriter and producer Meredith Kimbrough, expresses gentle concern about keeping grounded, in a world where “the constant drum inside my head has beaten down/the sound within my heart”.
This may sound traumatic but it’s a warm-hearted record, reflecting Easton’s music community spirit. “Festival Song” is a burst of positivity – “get some sunshine on your soul” – evoking the camaraderie of a music festival. “Voice On The Radio” is an affecting tribute to musician John Prine, “a souvenir for every joint you played/from Chicago to Galway Town”. The pensive “River Where Time Was Born” advocates letting go of the pain, following the death of singer-songwriter Justin Townes Earle.
Easton wrote the bulk of You Don’t Really Know Me during the US national quarantine of 2020. The Leadbelly influenced protest song “Son My Son” is perhaps the strongest indication of this, with an apocalyptical fear of leaving home and going downtown. The album was recorded in the same town (Nashville) with the same producers (Brad Jones, Robin Eaton) as Easton’s 1998 album Special 20, and the same mix of live band instrumentation and occasional drum loops. The results are often spectacular. The delightful “Running Down Your Soul”, with its singalong chorus, is a highlight. Easton is undisputedly an authentic, his enthusiasm for life joyfully translating onto this album of personal revolution.
Label: Black Mesa
Release Date: 17 AUG 2021