Tim Hockenberry 2016
Americana and beyond for an artist whose exposure should have long outgrown an “America’s Got Talent” bracket.
The fact that his trumpet was heard on a Sammy Hagar record and his pipes were put to good use by TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA must impress one more than Tim Hockenberry making it to the semi-finals of a popular TV song contest, but it can’t prepare the listener for this, his first album of all-original pieces. Even the upbeat, if melancholic, opener “Me And You” which draws a countrified outline for the nine cuts to follow is hardly a harbinger for the well-grounded riches to come.
What on the face of it may see like a modern pop-rock production is tapping into the heart of Appalachian tradition on the likes of “Come On Let’s Dance” whose half-yodels, set to a hoedown shuffle, deepen the context of a gruffly voiced narrative. More so, its “twenty years of loving you, you still fit into this dress” compliment adds to the kitchen sink level of details as referenced in “Crazy” with a different, funky kind of domestic delirium. There’s a spiritual level of intimacy, as some of the songs are co-penned by Tim and his son, organ and steel guitar enveloping emotions in vibrant film of cinematic stripe, especially when it’s adorned with a whistle, yet the familial/familiar flow of “If The Sky Was To Fall” or “Ease Your Pain” is turned both outwards and into inner space in the “I’ve Got Nothin’ (Better To Do)” blues.
This sounds like an opposite to “Faith In You” – a guitar-driven boisterous confession – but “Carrying You” is taking its piano to the same tender place, eschewing an orchestral swell in favor of a six-string vignette of a solo. Still, “This Time By Me” takes a straightforward swipe at romanticism in a song without an iota of banality: in a desperate stumble of sincerity, it’s a winning rather than a losing situation. A personal triumph.