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Kate Walsh - Tim's House Print E-mail
Saturday, 01 March 2008
ImageThis is the best gig in the world, at least for me. I get to do the thing that I love the most, listen to music, and follow it up with my second favorite thing, putting words to figurative paper, which then allows me to do my third favorite, voice my snarky semi-reasonable opinions. What could ever go wrong with a dream job like that?

Kate Walsh’s Tim’s House, that’s what.

The downside to the greatest gig in the world is that I become privileged to a lot of other people’s thoughts and opinions about my reviews. (Please note that I typed privileged with a great amount of sarcasm.) I’m informed about things I should have noticed, or how badly my last review reeked or that I should give up writing under the influence of booze, drugs or combinations of the two. I also get lots and lots and lots and lots of recommendations. Ludicrous things like … “You should review Britney Spears!” As if I could put myself through that ghastly an episode of sadomasochism.

“My cousin’s band Klowngantua (they print the K backwards) rocked my niece’s birthday party at Chucky Cheese, want to hear their CD?” Yes, because I think there’s a real need for death metal for eight year olds.

“You like all those chick singers, you should check out Tim’s House.” I’d be flippant here, but, ah, this one actually occurred. And I did. And now you know how we got here.
Why am I beating so hard around the proverbial bush? Why don’t I just get to telling you about Tim’s House? Because there’s not much “it” to get to. Walsh has an incredibly sweet voice. Her songs are heartfelt and beautifully performed. It’s calming, soothing and non-intrusive music. And it has the unpleasant duty of following up my recent infatuation with Jesca Hoop’s Kismet. Hoop is an artist who plays in the same general ballpark but makes music that blows Walsh’s preciousness away with wildly quarky takes on life, love and liberty.

I understand why my friend (who would call Walsh a “chick” but cry while her music played) would recommend it to me, but I’m not sure if I’m supposed to like it. There’s a lot to like, I guess, such as the anti- romantic super duper Valentine’s Day cut “Tonight” -- but not for me. As I listened to it I was struck with the thought that there’s a guy out there, poor fool, who’s on the receiving end of all of this woman’s heartache and vinegar. When I say “a guy” I mean these songs are directed at one solitary individual who obviously sent Kate on a walk of shame and is now going to live to regret it. Forever. That single-minded focus tends to make these songs uninteresting to the rest of us. When she achingly sings “Oh when you get here can we make a day of it?” you know it is directed right at the solitary dude and the rest of us billions be damned. No matter how lovely her voice and the instrumentation, no matter how earnestly she sings, I feel very detached from these bedroom recordings and her various treatises on young spurned love.

And the lyrics don’t pull me into her world either. In “Your Song” she sings, “I’m stuck on a boy who fills me with joy.” On “Don’t Break My Heart” she emotes, “’Cause if I see your face again/you'll break my heart again.” You get the idea. I read up and found out she was 23 years old. I would have guessed about 16. I also discovered that she’s huge in the U.K. but you have to remember they make the worst ham and cheese sandwiches in the world, so there’s strike two for Britain.

All this doesn’t mean I hate Tim’s House because I don’t. I find the song “Betty” and its odd declaration “Please, don’t you dare come burst in here/‘cause Betty’s not in here” strangely enticing because it sets my imagination all a-twitter and has me a-wonderin’ what room in the house the solitary guy isn’t supposed to burst into, and if Betty’s not there, who is? Would Kate and her non-Betty friend let me take a few pictures for my scrapbook?

And I really do like the closer “Fireworks” a lot. It’s a sad sweet tune about staying inside and avoiding the Guy Fawkes’ day crowds. Even though the song is about a day that’s very British (remember “V for Vendetta”?), the desire to isolate yourself because a holiday makes you blue is something we’ve all experienced. And that universality is what sets “Fireworks” apart from each, and every, other cut on Tim’s House.

Tim’s House clocks in at about 39 minutes and in this instance brevity is a real plus. It doesn’t really give me enough time to completely hate this release, but just enough time to drift out to the internet and find out that people who watch something evil and strange called “One Tree Hill” really love Walsh. I imagine they’re the same people who like whole albums of songs about “that special someone.” I’ve also learned without having to watch that OTH is a TV show I won’t watch, even on a bet, so there’s another big plus.

And me, I’m the kind of guy who’d rather find a little treasure like “Fireworks” at the end of an otherwise uneventful release, because it’s one more thing that makes this the best gig in the world.

This is a nice sounding release and I’m certain that the lack of complexity in the recording and instrumentation helps music downloaded at 128kbps sound a little better. Walsh’s acoustic guitar and voice are up front, cleanly recorded without any distortion or synthetic artifacts. Any time bass joins the mix the sound gets a little muddy. The drums don’t have a lot of bite.

I listened to Tim’s House in my car once. It’s pretty.

Upon repeated listens you’ll probably be enthralled by how delicate her voice sounds and that the engineers were able to capture it so accurately, but then again you may not notice because you’re busy serving Earl Grey tea and lemon cookies to your friends before you put in your “Party of Five” DVD.

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