Artist: Tim O'Brien
Label: Howdy Skies
Release Date: 10/30/2015
It’s a surprise to discover this is Tim O’Brien’s first release since 2011, when The Crossing launched to widespread acclaim. Of course, O’Brien himself has been busy between takes as a soloist, with his other pet projects Red Knuckles & the Trailblazers and Hot Rize and as a member of the Jerry Douglas-led award winning country outfit, the Earls of Leicester.
A well-established U.S. Americana/modern country/bluegrass festival favorite, he is also a sideman of note, and lends his multiple talents to countless other artists each year both vocally and instrumentally where he majors, it seems, on most acoustic instruments. Basically, if it can produce a tune, O’Brien can play it – banjo, guitar, mandolin, fiddle, bazouki – the list seems endless.
He’s also a noted songwriter, and many artists have cut their teeth with his tracks over the years. With Pompadour, O’Brien again produces an excellent album full of eclectic tracks and influences that range across the gamut of emotion, energy and genres. Around half of the tracks are self-written, while others reflect the dazzling diversity of styles this guy has mastered: Woody Guthrie, Michael Hanley, Dan Reader and even James Brown all get a look-in here alongside his ever-present, Irish traditional fiddle fun.
Some tracks jump from the disc with surprising skill and touches that give the album an added glow. “Gimme Little Somethin’, Take Her Off my Mind,” for example, kicks off with some twanging, electric fretwork that could come straight from George Harrison, albeit with a crossover hint of classic Del Shannon country on the side. O’Brien is a genuine national treasure, whose talent and energy know no bounds. Pompadour is another masterful triumph from one of the USA’s true musical greats.
– Iain Patience