Saturday, April 11, 2009

Tim Finn -- The Conversation

Tim Finn -- The Conversation (Capitol)

This is a fine follow up to Finn’s 2006 Imaginary Kingdom album. Finn is focusing on writing classic melodies, which he is pretty darned good at. However, whereas Kingdom was lush and widescreen, this is an intimate affair, spotlighting Finn’s voice which has weathered a bit, giving it more emotional depth.

Working with a small band, including his former Split Enz keyboardist Eddie Rayner, this album charms with simple songs. On one song, “Only a Dream”, Finn’s pithy tunesmithing is comparable to Ron Sexsmith.

But Finn's work is usually more expansive. Even with four musicians, "Imaginary Kingdom" is full of texture, with strummed acoustic guitars, electric guitar lead fills, Rayner's keyboards and Miles Golding's violin helping Finn cast a spell. The lyrics are so basic, as Finn sings of a guy who is so wrapped up in his own world, he won't acknowledge those who love him. On this song, Finn moves up in his range, which still sounds as good as it did three decades (and more) ago.

Golding's violin is a big part of "The Saw and the Tree", which is great slice of folk-pop. Using a basic metaphor, Finn sings about having a bad temper. The tenderness of the music belies that ongoing problem at hand. Finn recognizes that this problem may not ever go away: "A prisoner of his own device making his apology." This track is one of the highlights of the album.

Another highlight is the rustic "Forever Tuesday". Finn is looking back at a crystallizing moment with relish, the night that "I couldn't wait to show you/the lyrics to "Tin Soldier". This song sounds like an old Faces back porch romp and captures a fond reminiscence quite well.

There are a few other top notch tracks, such as “Out Of This World”, “More Fool Me” and “Invisible”, as bits of old Split Enz wrinkles and Beatle-ish moves blend into the gentle acoustic songs. Perhaps it’s a wee bit padded with 13 tunes, but this low key charmer goes down easy. It’s not Finn’s best, but it might be the Tim to turn to on a Sunday morning.

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