Tim Gartland – Million Stars | Album Review

timgartlandcdTim Gartland – Million Stars

Taste Good Music

www.timgartland.com

12 tracks

Tim Gartland’s life changed at 14 years of age when he say Muddy Waters. An Ohio native who moved to Chicago and now has spent most of his adult life since 1991 in Boston, Gartland is an outstanding harp player, singer and songwriter. His touring appears to center on the Boston area with forays to Ohio and back, but when you listen to this CD you’ll wonder why he’s not touring nationally on a regular basis.

All the songs here are by Gartland and/or his keyboard player Tom West. West impressed me with his piano and organ work here. Chris Rival on guitars, Paul Justice on basses and Forest Padgett on drums round out the membership of his band.   It’s a nice and very together sound backing up Gartland. West’s organ work and Rival’s guitar play are excellent; Gartland delivers the goods with vocals that remind me of a breathy and focused Duke Robillard mixed with a little Charlie Mussewhite. His harp is poignant and soulful. The songs are topical and meaningful lyrically while flowing well musically. What is not to like here? Nothing!

“Let Me Keep the Dog” opens and is a song about a split up. While he’s letting her go, he really wants to keep the dog; “She’s the only one worth fighting for.” While it sounds humorous it’s done seriously and delivered well. “Off My Mind” follows, another relationship issue where he’s trying to get a woman off his mind but he’s not succeeding well at it. “Mess Me Up” is a dirty and seductive sounding sort of song about looking for attention from a woman with bad intentions; more nice organ work in support of a fine song, too. “When the Wind Blows” adds piano and organ to the mix with good fret board work as Gartland blows some filthy sounding harp and sings in that gutsy tone. Nice stuff.

“I Should Have Cared Less” is a blues ballad of sorts and Gartland continues to deliver the goods vocally and the boys are right there again in support. “Two Rights Make a Wrong” is up next and he continues in the vein of busted relationships and gutsy vocals. There’s a nice guitar solo by Rival and West again is solid on organ. More of the same style of stuff in this cut but in a little more subdued manner with “Better the Foot Slips” before moving into the title cut. This is a down tempo honky tonk song that is kind of cool but might have been a little better served with a faster beat as Tim gets a bit pitchy.

“Tippin’ Time” keeps the tempo down as does “Shine Your Loving Light.” Good stuff but it’s getting very repetitive stylisitically. “I Can Add” is slow,dirty blues and has a lot more emotion but the down tempo stuff has little variety. “Shake It Nina” closes the set with a mid tempo instrumental. Nice guitar work and the organ stays on top of things; Gartland blows some mean harp and the band builds up into a fade out finish.

Gartland has written some great songs here and really display guts and emotion in his vocals and harp. His band is also super; Tom West delivers some outstanding performances throughout and producer/guitar player Chris Rival is solid. I’d like to have some more variety in style and tempo,but Gartland is good at what he does!

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