Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Twenty Ways Amazed

Oh... This one goes deep. Not only is this album extremely touching, it bears some truly special meaning for yours truly who personally finds Tim Rose, the man behind the title Fresh Mowed Lawn, greater and in many ways more important than most musical legends. Something about Rose’s songs appeals to me big time. I believe the simple explanation is melodies, and Rose’s phenomenal ability to come up with them (although I can’t deny the meaning of a sweet voice that delivers the melodies either…). Whatever the ultimate reason is, something about the music of The Sun Sawed in 1/2 (and Fresh Mowed Lawn) has been enchanting me ever since I found these titles.

Tim Rose, who had a few years earlier recorded tracks for The Sun Sawed in 1/2's latest album (I refuse to say “last”!) Bewilderbeest in Kyiv, Ukraine, now went to Austria and recorded the entire album in Vienna with the help of talented local musicians. The result is fresh and clear, although Rose hasn’t completely abandoned the dark shades of psychedelia. The general sound is in fact rather dark than bright, but I would preferably describe the album’s mood as atmospheric. Rose chants and the band plays through the album in the spirit of Wondermints and The High Llamas. The absolute sincerity and positive mood of Watching the World Turn Slowly/From This Day Forward gives some really strong loving vibes pretty similar to Brian Wilson’s Pet Sounds. I think it would be quite suitable to call this album Tim Rose’s Pet Sounds.

The Fresh Mowed Lawn album (2005) is not much about rock or electric guitars – I’m still not saying that there wouldn’t be any rock in Rose’s performance. Gently sweeping drums, acoustic guitars (and some electric ones too), flutes, lovely female background singers and charmingly dramatic piano playing make the sound of FML. There are also some trumpets and steel guitar that add a nice shade to a couple of songs. In the end of the album Rose even gives the floor to his son Luca.

Wish It All Away is a sort of personal favorite, although it is very difficult to pick faves from an album like this. Sometimes these songs make you feel like you’re looking straight into Rose’s heart – check Once Upon a Summer, The Rest of Your Life, or the title track. Fresh Mowed Lawn that probably gave a name this entire solo project (I guess Rose didn’t want to use his own name because of the other Tim Rose) is epic and has many parts. In the lyrics Rose paints a heavenly picture of lying on a fresh mowed lawn in the summer. Again, I have to refer to Pet Sounds. Rose’s lyrics are like a lovely poetry collection that deals with the ups and downs turning the hardships of life into comfort.

Now, for the first time (that I know of), Rose uses his own voice to perform complete songs on an album. His voice is considerably different from his Sun Sawed in 1/2 bandmate Doug who used to sing most of Rose’s songs. The change of lead vocalist changes the mood of the music, turning it more personal and, well… a lot less bubblegummy. More than butterscotch Rose sounds like Elvis Costello. In his solo material, Tim Rose doesn’t hold back and therefore he has to squeeze out some vocal parts. Part of the magic is definitely in the effort. Rose gives his best possible performance here.

Fresh Mowed Lawn doesn’t contain a second that wouldn’t have a meaning or that at least wouldn’t be entertaining. Tim Rose knows the secrets of melody, and that a good melody sounds even better when you use forceful vocal nuances, emotion and highlight the whole thing with a gorgeous arrangement.

Fresh Mowed Lawn at MySpace

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