Artist: Tim Kolleth
Album: St. Timmy
Label: Self Released
Release Date: 11/18/2016
Sometimes good music comes from the most unexpected sources. Tim Kolleth has spent almost his entire career as the radio promoter for Alligator Records. Little did most of know that he was a singer-songwriter at heart. Now we can actually hear his latent talents. Tim is surely not yet ready to quit his “day job,” but from all accounts, he is increasingly buoyed by the enthusiastic reception he is receiving for his modest, but long in the making debut. His songs have already been featured in Chicago on one of the nation’s leading commercial alternative stations, 101 WKQX, and he has made the Top 10 on the community radio station CHIRP (Chicago Independent Radio Project).
When Tim sent me his CD, it was basically offered up as a demo tape. The unpolished nature of the recording accounts for some of the appeal. These are Tim’s raw acoustic performances augmented with the help of producer and multi-instrumentalist Jay Septoski, who added electric guitar, bass, organ, mandolin, lap steel and baritone ukulele to Kolleth’s mostly dark, as in UK kind of dark (quiet desperation) to my ears, melodies and vocals. One writer refers to Kolleth’s liner notes, (which I don’t have) where Tim points to Jason Molina, the lyrics of Farrar/Tweedy from Uncle Tupelo, and the efficient, straight-forward poetry of Kris Kristofferson as major influences. Closer listens reveal a Midwestern kind of twang in Kolleth’s vocals, not unlike The Pines. Yet when I mentioned my UK reference, Kolleth confided, “Well, I’m a huge British Invasion and Freakbeat fan of garage-psych and I like Nick Drake, Richard Thompson, and Billy Bragg so I might be guilty.”
The themes to this Midwesterner’s collection of songs center on faith, both in religion and in relationships. The opening “Prayin’ Kind” reflects on Jesus with this lyric, “I wonder if I’d a chose his road/would I be the one dying for the sinners/or the one gambling for his robe.” Raw emotion color tunes like “Open Door” and “Pretty Good Find” while others like “If You Ever Want to be Unfaithful” challenge you to listen closely for Kolleth’s often sarcastic musings on otherwise serious subject matter. The strength of the album is clearly in the lyrics while there are some nifty melodic touches sprinkled throughout. Kolleth’s voice is easy enough to listen to but like many singer-songwriters, he’s not likely to earn awards for his vocals. Tim is really not trying to prove anything necessarily. He took on a big experiment and it turned out to be a more auspicious debut than he could have hoped for. As its appeal grows, so does its accessibility. It is now digitally available on BandCamp, Amazon, Spotify, iTunes, and other outlets. Take the unbeaten path and listen to real, unadorned solid songs.