Tim Easton “Find Your Way”

Black Mesa Records, 2024

Tender reflections and stories from the itinerant troubadour.

Over three decades Tim Easton’s travels have taken him busking around Europe and relentless tours across North America. He has recorded with Wilco, Lucinda Williams, Mike Campbell and Aaron Lee Tasjan among others. Easton’s reward for such dedication is a thoroughly deserved reputation as a lyricist, an interpreter of experience and the human condition. ‘Find Your Way’ is a particularly apt title for his 12th solo album as after all those years on the road he has taken a step back to reflect. This adjustment is something of a process he began with his 2021 album, ‘You Don’t Really Know Me’. The refocussing began then and four years on seems even more preceptive. Easton tells stories, describing these songs as “feature films inside three-minute chunks of music”, but his articulacy is equally suited to love songs, or just anything to do with feelings. It is not overkill to put Easton up with Prine, Hiatt, Hammond or Hartford.

Tim Easton was born in upstate New York, near the Canadian border. His mother was Canadian so it is perhaps no surprise that he wanted to record there. ‘Find Your Way’ is Easton’s “Canadian album”, recorded and produced by Leroy Stagger at his Neighbourhood Recorders studio in Victoria, BC.

Easton opens with the title track, his lilting vocals, gentle acoustic and faraway pedal steel ease the listener into what he calls a “cautionary tale with a pinch of hope”. ’Find Your Way’ looks back at a near-miss that followed a recording session with The Band of Heathens in Austin. Recognising his excesses could have splattered him across that road Easton considers his good fortune as well as the sheer flukes of life, “every day gives another chance to find your way”.

He offers sound advice on ‘Everything You’re Afraid Of’ as he tries to rid himself of anger and general bad feelings towards others. There is a determination about the song, lyrically and sonically as he looks outward beyond his own troubles. “Ditch all the anger and unlock the chains/ Ask yourself how you can help someone else who’s in pain”. In a similar vein ‘Here For You’ aspires to better relations. After breaking up from his wife he writes to their daughter pledging, “I’m always here for you”. The light banjo line adds hope that all can still get on together.

Set “Up in Bangor, Maine”, ’Little Brother’ tells of the tragedy wrought by addiction on a family. Easton comforts his “little brother” with such tenderness it is hard to believe the song is not autobiographical. Hope flickers in a life otherwise very dark as together they plead, “Mama won’t you come back to us now”.

There is a distinctive swampy blues side to Easton evoking JJ Cale most evident in ‘Arkansas Twisted Heart’. Jaunty fiddle and banjo mask an underlying sense of menace. The vibe is one more of defiance rather than reflection. Whether drawn from his itinerant days ‘Dishwasher’s Blues’ is a rollicking tale of devil may care, hang the consequences. Darting around the fiddle and piano is the wonderful, “Just because you quote Jesus and a line or two from ‘Five Easy Pieces’ doesn’t mean you have the right to tell me how to live my life”.

Closing with ‘By The End of the Night’ Easton is back in reflective mode. To a gently acoustic arrangement he sings a love song of disarming simplicity, “by the end of the night theres is nothing more to do but fall in love with you”. Such sparing lyricism only underscores his lucidity.

‘Find Your Way’ is a magnificent album. Tim Easton’s writing exudes such compassion and kindness whether looking at himself or beyond. The quieter focus that runs throughout adds a further dimension to this highly accomplished artist.


About Lyndon Bolton 143 Articles
Writing about americana, country, blues, folk and all stops in between
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