Tim Lothar – More Stories
16 songs/41 min
How many versions of “Goodnight Irene” does the world need? The Leadbelly standard seminally immortalized on tape by the Lomaxs while Mr. Ledbetter was incarcerated at Louisiana State Penitentiary has been covered by everyone from Frank Sinatra to Keith Richards. This song is most effective when the artist arranges the song in a unique personal way; check out Dr. John’s raucous large ensemble version on Trippin’ Live, or Kelly Joe Phelps’ abstraction on Shine Eyed Mister Zen, or Tom Waits’ drunkard’s choir on Orphans. Tim Lothar adds another “Irene” to the clutter on More Stories. The Danish Bluesman uses his fine inventive version as a North Star for this traditional Delta style album. There are 9 “original” compositions and 6 short instrumental interludes. Quotations are used here by your reviewer because the actual music of the 9 originals is anything but original; they are well worn Blues tropes with Lothar’s lyrics superimposed over (possibly save the minor key arpeggiated “There Is Only Now”). The overall effect of this record is a slightly dower rumination on a hard working traveling musician’s life told through well executed solo Blues performances.
Tim Lothar has been developing his Delta Blues style since 2006 traveling all over Denmark and Europe playing his straightforward Son House inspired style and singing with a slightly huskyer Ry Cooder voice. Lothar’s trip seems to take the traditional Delta forms and express his own unique modern perspective over it. Songs like “Coffee and Wine” and “Another Train Song” are great examples. “Coffee” has a great boogie rhythm to it and playful lyrics about not drinking to forget. “Another Train Song” is a waltz Blues with clever lyrics about the journeyman’s life.
The interludes throughout this album help to break up what could be stylistic monotony due to the similarity of sound in Lothar’s solo guitar and vocal performances. These 6 short instrumental meditations are at times playful and at times mournful. They also introduce or epilogue songs well. It is a great way to put together a well thought-out album experience.
It was mentioned that the cover of “Goodnight Irene” is the stylistic North Star for this record. The arrangement of “Irene” is interesting and eskews the original Leadbelly version with minor chords and different rhythm changes. The above mentioned outlier “There Is Only Now” has similar inventiveness within the tradition. These two tracks and the creativity of form in the interludes point to unique strengths in Lothar’s music. The other music on More Stories seem to aspire to this creativity and are on the verge of overflowing into it. As a result More Stories is a strong entry into Tim Lothar’s discography.