Have you ever noticed how some artists can just make their music sound effortless? I realize it’s not; it is harder than you ever imagined but the music comes from deep within them and comes out as a flow like turning on a spigot. Tim Houlihan is one such artist. Tim has been around the music scene since his debut release, 1999’s “Letters From Caulk’s Creek”. It was almost eight years until his next release and he emerged more confident in his writing and his approach to music. One of the aspects I love about writing these reviews is when I come across an artist who has been around a while and has a body of work to examine. You can really hear their progression and growth. Tim’s newest album “Anthems” was released in 2013 and on the record we hear an artist who has really grown into his talents. Tim bills himself as a “singer songwriter whose songs are carved from real life with articulate enthusiasm, strong grooves and sophisticated playing”. He cites his influences as Jackson Browne, Stephen Stills and James Taylor among others and his influences can be heard throughout the album. Not a carbon copy or a poor imitation; influences.
Houlihan now makes his home in Minneapolis MN and is a product of the Midwest US, spending most of his life there. There is a certain sound to the musicians who call this region of the country home or who grew up in and around what we call the rust belt and the Great Lakes. Dylan, John Mellencamp, Boz Scaggs and Bruce Hornsby all grew up with those Midwestern values. If you enjoy the music of those artists, you will also like Tim Houlihan’s “Anthems”. There are a lot of similarities. From subject matter, to instrumentation to the overall mood and tone of the record. One of the things I like best about this record is that Houlihan and his band aren’t afraid to experiment with the arrangements and bring in any and every weapon in their musical quiver as long as it serves the song. From the Latin rhythm and trumpet in ‘Aljezur Sunrise’ to the mournful accordion on ‘Those Who Discovered The World’, Houlihan knows how to serve a composition.
The band includes Jon James Benson on guitar, Paul Madsen on bass and Todd Lester banging the skins. It is evident that the band has been together long enough to be a coherent unit with each player complimenting the other. According to Houlihan, his next album is due to be released later this year and he will explore more of his country and blues roots. We can’t wait!
Uncle Duke; a.k.a. Rob Penland is the producer and host of "The Mad Music Asylum" a 4 hour weekly syndicated radio show and now a 24 hour streaming internet station.