A Review of the CDs
"The Stars Above" & "Bridges"
by Tim Harrison
"The Stars Above" & "Bridges"
Copyright 1995 (The Stars Above)
by Tim Harrison
copyright 1997 (Bridges)
Second Avenue Records
12 Aldergrove Avenue
Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4C 1B2
This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 4/99
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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Passion. An appealing fiery fervor. Vocals that compel attention and
create a sense of immediacy. All this, combined with a graceful lyrical
touch and flowing melodies make the music of this relatively unknown Canadian
a thoroughly intoxicating enjoyment. Projecting a compassionate honesty,
Harrison masterfully mixes rhythms, offering soothing subtlety on one cut
with driving forcefulness on the next. Solid instrumentation featuring
guitar, violin, cello, harmonica, whistle, flute and keyboard, among others,
provide complementary casings for his songs.
Released in 1995, "The Stars Above" focuses primarily on relationships,
both interpersonal and with life itself. The title cut, "The Stars Above,"
depicts the crushing angst that defines daily living for some:
"In the hollow havens of the bottom line
However, Harrison imbues it with an upbeat closing message:
we're swinging back and forth in time
hungry for something that we cannot see
stranded in the door to eternity...
...and in the city streets you listen for the sound
but the poets and prophets all went underground
bank towers loom over steeple spires
and the status quo smothers hearts of fire..."
"...sunlight chases shadows across suburban skies
The mournful "Wheatfield With Crows," borrowing from Vincent Van Gogh,
ends with a further Van Gogh homage:
you hear the stories, the rumours and the lies
still every dawn in creation yet
let's you make a life if you don't forget."
"...and in the darkened rooms
On both "Elizabeth's Lament" and "The Parting Letter to Ophelia," Harrison
turns more sorrowful. "Elizabeth's Lament" presents a woman drained in
spirit by choosing, for the sake of security, to stay in a suffocating
and unfulfilling relationship. "The Parting Letter to Ophelia" is a confessional
attempt to explain the hows and whys of a failed relationship. Harrison,
at his affective best, closes this cut with:
streams of streetlight bathed their bodies as they moved
slowly tracing aphrodite's pas de deux
through the starry nights"
"...I wish there was some way to explain
"Born In the Mirror," a questioning of life, has a quiet but driving ferocity
and a moving guitar backing. Harrison sings:
that the world just spins
and over and over and over again
you have to choose to put love in."
"...and how can you know
He reaffirmingly concludes with:
if it all really matters
when even the saints' clothes
get torn and in tatters
but dreams must live on
see what you make of what you try
you may be born in the mirror
but you have to seek the light..."
"...well there's no answer
In "Joy Alright," Harrison, backed by a wistful harmonica and sharing vocals
on the chorus, again reiterates satisfaction and fulfillment is attainable,
even with life's daily ups-and-downs. The chorus asserts:
and there's no reason
there's just something
that's called believing."
"...and there's tears alright
"The more recent release, 1997's "Bridges," continues one of the primary
themes from his 1995 offering "The Stars Above": the relative ease in losing
footing on the pathway of life and commendation for those who arise time
after time. The opening cut, "Not For the Love of the Money," tackles this
and there's pain alright
and there's fears alright
but you can find joy alright...
you get hurt alright
you get worn alright
you get torn alright
but you can get joy alright
you can find joy alright...
"...And it's not for the love of the money
Or those things which tear us apart
It's for the times that we share
And the times we can care
To follow an act of the heart
And it's not for the praise or the glory
Or those things which just fade away
It's for living somehow
In the here and the now
And facing it all day by day..."
"...There may be heroes on the stock exchange
Steeped in a flowing rhythm, "Lord Hear Our Prayer," provides impact with
its mantra-like choruses. Twining neglect of the downtrodden with society's
blessing and laser-like focus on moneymaking, Harrison cries out:
He finishes with:
And saviours in the banks
But it's not with these I find my prayers
Or where I give my thanks
It's for all the ones on this planet
Full of pain
For the ones who find the strength
To give back in again."
"...False gods and corporations
Again tacking the existential ills experienced in modern-day life and sounding
reminiscient of Van Morrison, Harrison, in "Down To The River," offers
hopeful and soothing absolution:
Seek souls of those who'll tell
The story of the bottom line
And the poor ones who just fell
The sun, the moon, the stars above
The showers and the dew
The winds of god they hold you
But what do people do?"
"Let's go down to the river
The cello-backed "All The Goodbyes" features a set of splendidly imaginative
lyrics. In the last three verses, Harrison sings:
You can wash your soul
Sit on the banks and watch it flow by
We all got a reason to go..."
"...But all the goodbyes
In a possible self-disclosure vein, "God Sent Me An Angel," depicts those
seredipitous moments when life-changing events unexpectedly occur, whether
or not we are ready. Discovering new life and love through a "healing"
angel, Harrison sings:
We say in our lives
Fall like silence on a dark midnight street
Where in quite longing
The angels are calling
The ones who are left to their sleep...
The earth spins around
She nods to the stars
A traveller who seeks for her sun
She longs for the day
When time fades away
And the universe falls back into one...
But day passes day
And the moon dogs our way
And follows the mystery train
We rise for our time
We seek for a rhyme
And then disappear once again."
"...With new love old sorrow is uncovered
"Ship To Come In" uses a sailing analogy in focusing on the inertia latent
in the hoping and waiting for personal release from events of the past:
Pain you thought you'd left behind
But if it goes on undiscovered
It can rob your soul and steal your mind".
"...But don't wait for your ship to come in
Both of these are quality releases and once entering your CD rotation,
may never see a jewel box again. You'll also find yourself singing lines
and choruses days after. Harrison is a rising talent and justly so. Catch
him on the way up.
Don't wait for the tide of healing to begin
If you can't imagine it will disappear again
Don't wait for your ship to come in...
Don't wait for release from the past
Don't wait for the time when you feel free at last
Just cut the lines that have kept your ship held fast
Don't wait for release from the past."
"The Stars Above":
- Map of Paris (4:24)
- The Stars Above (4:47)
- Your Love Brings Me Around (3:32)
- Wheatfield With Crows (3:29)
- We Believed (4:01)
- Elizabeth's Lament (3:05)
- Born In The Mirror (4:20)
- The Parting Letter To Ophelia (3:50)
- Innocent Eyes (4:02)
- Joy Alright (5:38)
All songs from "The Stars Above" written by Tim Harrison.
All songs from "Bridges" written by Tim Harrison, except "Carrikfergus"
- Not For The Love Of Money (7:49)
- Raining Expectations (7:23)
- Lord Hear Our Prayer (5:33)
- Down To The River (5:03)
- All The Goodbyes (4:31)
- God Sent Me An Angel (7:59)
- Carrikfergus (5:09)
- Ship To Come In (4:55)
- Vital Spark (4:50)
Copyright © 1998-2015 Kevin & Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews. All rights reserved.
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