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Tim Finn - Andy White & Tim Finn - Album Review: AT

29 Mar 2023 // A review by taffynz

I still have my original late 70's 7" vinyl single of I Got You by Split Enz, despite emigrating to these shores in early 1997. I wasn't even a teenager in the late 70's. And I didn't take six months, and I flew because I can't swim and leaky boats aren't conducive to creatures as terminally non-buoyant as me. Why these random ruminations? Because I am getting to review the new album release from Melbourne-based, Belfast born Andy White in duet with New Zealand music royalty, Tim Finn. I am genuinely honoured. This is not said flippantly, as a platitude or anything other than face value. I am genuinely honoured. I love Tim Finn.

How the story goes is a number of years ago Andy, Tim and Liam from Irish folksy-indie rockers The Hothouse Flowers released an album called ALT (Andy Liam Tim - see what they did there?). Well now, many years later, Andy and Tim (Liam didn't fancy it this time round) have collaborated again to bring us AT. I won't explain the precedent for how the name came about a second time.

I've read their press release and I don't want to plagiarise any of it, so I'll let them tell the tale of how it came about, how the songs took shape etc. I will let the cat out of the bag that the legendary John Leckie mixed it in his Oxford, England, studio. John Leckie of Stone Roses debut album fame, plus those great New Wave acts of the late 70's XTC and others.

Onto the music. The online album has eleven tracks, the vinyl has ten, with the dropped eleventh still available on vinyl but as a B side to the second promo single release. I'll give a brief summary of each track here.

The album kicks off with The Sea Holds The Memory. It's an acoustic based, but mixed in detail ballad-type track. The orchestration and melodies and sweet and lush but not saccharine or jarring. Lyrics are gorgeous and yet mild. The mix is excellent, and vocal delivery as one would expect. I listened to it, paused the computer machine thingy and went and told the missus she's going to love this album. Well thought out intro song, really setting the tone of expectation.

We then head into first promo single My Regeneration. This has Tim Finn's stamp all over it, from the melody to the vocal and the instrumentation. What a poppy yet organic sounding track! Again great lyrics, mix and mastering. A quirky beat, which leads into an equally quirky little middle 8 and a feel good finish. Upping the energy, and really cool. This will go down well live.

Following is Bundle Of Their Dreams. Compelling lyrics I exhort you to listen to carefully. Exquisite choice of instrumentation, a very Irish blend, a marching beat that stirs memories of marches and different times. Slightly reminiscent of Icehouse for some reason, but I think that might just be my reading on the reverb levels. It's a good thing, though!

This leads to Everything Twice. Oh goodness me, I wish George Harrison was still with us. He'd have loved this. Okay, I'm going to stop chucking other acts in here, but they mention Liverpool in the song (as well as Auckland, Melbourne, Dublin and more!), and this song is whimsical, light and yearning. It's well crafted, a lovely, light mix, uncluttered instrumentation but cleverly orchestrated. More Tim Finn quirkiness mixed into a pop sensibility that is singularly his. Delightful track!

I am ENJOYING this! Next is Save Me A Weekend. More electrified guitar, stripped back and way more introspective. Lyrics that need to be studied, because there are some deep comments in them. Very good lyrics. This is the final track on the vinyl LP side 1, and is a perfectly weighted track to end a side. Shows the commercial savvy of the duo, but it also doesn't detract from the flow of the album on the online forums, due to its compelling melody, lyrics and mix. No fillers so far - all great tracks that stand up individually. Happy old Jack here!

Vinyl side 2 starts with Three Sheep Grazing. Acoustic and twin vocal harmonies. A great little melody, beautiful intro of strings pops up and leads into full band with drums and bass. Is that a baritone guitar? Really cool, laid back tempo and a feeling of thoughts being spoken aloud. Definite Finn quirks popped into the mix, which always enhance due to the man's genius for it.

The next track is the one not available on the vinyl album, Warrior Of Love. A surprising one! I said I wouldn't mention other acts anymore, but Jeff Lynne's Electric Light Orchestra springs to mind. A strings and rhythm driven song; baritone lead vocal with an underbelly of a several part backing vocal layer. This smacks of live show targeting, the tempo, melody, and the anthemic chorus forbids it to not be so!

The next song could be describing my listening to this album. It's called Best Fun Time In Ages. It could also describe another favourite pastime of mine, social media interaction, which the lyrics cover. This is another anthemic number, a mild melody and clap-along chorus driven by a nicely in-your-face drum track. A very fun track, and my head was definitely a'bobbing. Avant Garde element to the bridge gave a nice raised eyebrow in a nice to be surprised way.

Track number nine is It's Family. It comes in as a slow multi-vocal harmony track with guitars, and builds. Ethereal lead vocal and a haunting piano melody come in and make this a really bewitching track. Staccato strings drop in and out before settling in as a solid note sequence. Nobody could pull this mix off apart from Tim Finn and anyone who is working with him at the time. This is slightly out there, but wonderfully so. Beautiful.

Track ten is the second promo single The Happiness Index. Powerful intro from the rhythm section, this is an electric guitar with the fuzz on, sitting underneath an angry vocal. Melody all over it in subtle ways, and another anthem that's going to go over well live. This is the most in-your-face track of the album so far. They're asking questions of societal cohesion, it seems to me. Lyrics to think to, but not pretentiously trying to say they know more than you. Just questioning. And the tune and tempo suits it. Great choice for a single. You must check out the great video on YouTube.

Final track is Rock 'n' Roll Star. A tongue-in-cheek set of lyrics, set to an aggressive sounding mix of instruments, a mid-tempo rhythm section keeping the compelling sound together - then it changes. We get a sweeter, acoustic and electric guitar blend, multi-layered vocal harmonies. What a wild ride of a song! It changes again, and goes on a tangent that you have to listen to understand. Madcap, delightfully madcap yet not losing cohesion in the remotest sense. Andy and Tim are wonderful songwriters! This one is definitely a live performance one.

Shout outs to Jonathan Dreyfus for the strings arrangements and Andy's son Sebastian who played some of the drums.

Class will show every time, and these two Gentlemen have delivered a wonderful album of inventive indie-driven pop that completely avoids any feelings of plastic or programming. Just class. Just class. Some of us old fellas can still do it. Tim Finn is a genre all of his own. Andy White easily deserves to be in there with him.

Enjoyed it so much I'm not even going to finish with my usual Wild Side lyrics quote.

Rating: ( 5 / 5 )
 

About Tim Finn

“Imagine there is an old stone wall at the bottom of your garden, beyond which is a beach and further out a volcanic island. You are sitting on the wall drinking coffee. It’s a radiant winter morning and you feel passing through each moment the exquisite rhythms of friendship and disappointment, encouragement and love.” Tim Finn on the mood of, The View Is Worth The Climb, Auckland 2011

Tim Finn stands barefoot at the studio microphone. There’s a music stand within arm’s reach and a holy picture sits next to a lyric sheet. The studio is littered with old analogue gear and reels of fresh tape. Producer Jacquire King looks at Finn from behind a high-tech console as the band adjust their volume. The singer takes a deep breath, looks back at the producer and smiles. Then the magic begins.

For Finn, the magic has been happening over a long period: across generations, beyond horizons and around the world. One of the new century’s great classicists, Finn has a formidable reputation as a singer and songwriter. His lineage goes back to the group he co-founded in New Zealand in the early 1970?s, Split Enz. Alongside that is his acclaimed solo work, as well as tenure with Crowded House. Now he’s returned with a new solo album, The View Is Worth The Climb.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Tim Finn

Releases

What You've Done
Year: ????
Type: Album
The View Is Worth The Climb
Year: 2011
Type: Album
The Conversation
Year: 2008
Type: Album
Imaginary Kingdom
Year: 2006
Type: Album
Everyone Is Here
Year: 2004
Type: Album
Feeding The Gods
Year: 2001
Type: Album
Say It Is So
Year: 2000
Type: Album
Before & After
Year: 1993
Type: Album
Tim Finn
Year: 1989
Type: Album
Big Canoe
Year: 1986
Type: Album
Escapade
Year: 1983
Type: Album

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