Album Reviews

Tim McNary

Above The Trees

Artist:     Tim McNary

Album:     Above The Trees

Label:     Self-released

Release Date:     04/08/2016


Most musicians grow up with music, going on to build a life around it, but for singer-songwriter Tim McNary, that story doesn’t quite fit. During a two-year stint volunteering and backpacking across South America after college, he began penning tracks, and has in the five years since played hundreds of shows, some stages shared with The Civil Wars and Griffin House. With his previous two EPs garnering praise from big-name music blogs like Noisetrade, McNary’s latest release, Above The Trees, follows in his usual footsteps of drowsy Americana but with a more matured, full-circle type of sound.

Though there are only seven tracks, we’re not missing the rest too much because each song is heavy with lush instrumentals and aching vocals, in a way that any more than that would overwhelm the senses. The EP opens with its title track, a deep guttural intro followed by the first inkling of McNary’s raw emotion in the form of soaring vocals. In the same vein as its predecessor, next track “Echoes Of A Whole” howls with honesty, but with louder, looser vocals and pulsing rhythms. The middle of Above The Trees offers a light Latin-fusion reprieve from its heavy subject matter, with “The Heist” playing around with thick beats and a catchy hook, but the intermission doesn’t last long, making way again for the final track, the uncomplicated, sweet ballad “Sara Rose”. The record’s last track catches McNary’s gentler parts within his vocals, which play around with falsetto, and his songwriting, singing straight-forward, stripped-down lyrics like “Waiting bliss/I will build you a kiss/On bedrock lips”.

When the record is soft, McNary offers little development, preferring a raw (and therefore effective) performance baring just his emotions and little more, and where the album picks up, punctuated beats and distant rhythms fill the spaces left behind by his strong, careful voice. On Above The Trees, Tim McNary declares war on his own mind, sharing with his listeners his struggles in the hopes we will hear them and feel them, a catharsis unique to McNary’s latest record.

–Savannah Davanzo

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