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Tim Grimm had not intended to write and release another album of songs in 2020-2021, but that was before the world turned upside down, and masks and social distancing became the norm….before concerts and theaters were shuttered… before the weight of cultural and social anxiety became seemingly unbearable under the dark veil of a Trump presidency. Grimm has often felt that all songs are either love songs -or political songs…. And in times like these, for him, they are often one and the same.
In eight tracks, Grimm’s album GONE reflects on dreams past and present, and on personal and community loss. As a collection of songs, it weaves deftly between the simple clarity of a songwriter’s observation and a use of metaphor that is at once both uncomplicated and beguiling. A DREAM starts things off as it builds with a lush string arrangement (compliments of Diederik van Wassenaer), and Grimm immediately conveys that dreams- like time- can serve as markers of both the past and present- the consistent and the elusive, as well as the shadows of what may yet come. CARRY US AWAY strips away the sonic landscape into finger-picked guitar and banjo with a haunting harmonica. It is a bittersweet love song of ache and melancholy, and it feels timeless. CADILLAC HEARSE picks things up with a rollicking tale of an unforgettable ride through rural North Carolina in the 60’s, and 25 TREES displays Grimm’s gifts of simple observation with lists of books and trees made all the more relevant in this time of the pandemic. LAUREL PEARL and JOSEPH CROSS are both songs of loss— two very different sides of the same coin. Laurel was just a young girl from Plymouth, MA, while Joseph was an old Indian brought to life from the pen of Grimm’s friend, the deceased Eric Taylor (another victim of 2020). For this song, Grimm enlists Taylor’s widow- Susan- to sing harmonies, and friends James Gilmer (percussion) and Marco Feccio (electric guitar) who both played and recorded with Eric.
Grimm released the title track as a single last fall and it rose quickly to become the number 1 Song of 2020 on the Folk DJ charts. GONE was also nominated as Song of the Year in the International Folk Alliance Awards 2021.
Closing out the album is Grimm’s most recent composition- DREAMING OF KING LEAR. 2020 saw the loss of not only John Prine (referenced in GONE), but also Eric Taylor and Michael Smith and David Olney. These three master songwriters were all inspirations for Grimm, and over the years he had hosted them in concerts in Indiana, appeared on stages and festivals with them, and co-toured parts of the states or Europe. These are voices and spirits that were unique and will be sorely missed in the folk music world.
Grimm’s family is once again at the heart of this musical outing. Wife, Jan, supplies vocal harmonies and harmonica, as well as co-writes on 2 songs…. son Connor’s bass anchors many of these tunes…. And son, Jackson plays a fine banjo, guitar and mandolin— that weave their way through many of the songs.
The dozen songs are packed with simple truths—which are the best kind—and immensely easy to become totally immersed in. With evocative imagery of life and rural landscapes, Tim seamlessly blends his deeply personal ruminations on family, friends, lovers, a musician's transient life, and the frequently confounding nature of existence—and creates a universally felt home for memory, gratitude, acceptance, and regret. His songs carry an independent spirit and grit … a hard bitten yet romantic eye that seems bred into the greatest songwriters. Alan Cackett, UK
A perfect folk album. Fired by the love of the heartlands. Full of empathy for the people — Tim Grimm is an enlightened, progressive folk singer, in the style of Woody Guthrie and Ramblin 'Jack Elliott and "Heart Land Again" is another great album by one of the most important US folk singers of our time! Country.de / Thomas Waldherr- Germany
"Heart Land Again" is an atmospheric, intense and pure album that hits you immediately. Together with his Family Band, (they) have lifted the songs to a higher level. A great album. Staying In Love, one of the two new songs on the CD, is the most moving and powerful on the album. This is partly due to the strong composition and the beautiful landscape of sounds and colors, but it is also Tim's most emotionally filled voice, cast in a beautiful vocal line that touches the depths of your soul. His voice is even more thorough and raw than before, so everything is richer. He really is a master at telling stories. bluesmagazine.nl- The Netherlands
A STRANGER IN THIS TIME He has an ear for a mean tune, as this album is packed with them. Superb stuff. An outstanding collection of songs -- Fabulous Folk Americana from the Family Grimm. AMERICANA UK
A STRANGER IN THIS TIME “A Stranger In This Time” is three things. First, it is a condemnation of parts of Modern America. Second, it is proof that despite what the news might have you believe, there is some decency in this world still. Third – and most important – it is a quite outstanding record. Andy Thorley- MAXIMUM VOLUME MUSIC
"one of this year's best (cds)… a taste for melody and keen insight that few of his colleagues can boast. Along with greats like Greg Brown and John Gorka, Tim Grimm is in my opinion among the best singer-songwriters in the United States." THE LONG JOURNEY- Roots and Country Music- ITALY
"Grimm has a voice of the ages… (a) work of character and contemplation "
Lonesome Highway- UK
His songs are authentic, straight from the heart and almost without exception stunning." ALTCOUNTRYFORUM- The Netherlands
"Tim's music falls somewhere between folk and country. Americana is as good a description as any. He has been compared to Johnny Cash, Woody Guthrie and Nebraska-era Bruce Springsteen. Personally, I would add to that list other great storytelling songwriters such as John Stewart, Townes van Zandt and Guy Clark. That's how good he is, really." FATEA- UK
5 stars "What a great record." Ctrl. Alt. Country- BELGIUM
4 1/2 stars- Maverick (UK)
4 stars- MOJO (UK)
The songs, based on the writings of his friend, Scott Russell Sanders, become a showcase for the storyteller, sharing his ability to pair his words with music that lopes, twists, twangs and is full of mystery. The people in many of these stories are from another time but their messages are true today; individuals struggling with personal demons and lives that are dealt a raw deal, yet still harboring hope. The gentle guitar and Springsteen’s The Ghost of Tom Joad vibe of “Fruit” and the Carter Family echo of “Frostbite of the Soul” were originally released on 2007’s Wilderness Plots, while “Rebecca Versailles” and her children crossing the Mason/Dixon line and “Squaw” are from Grimm’s 2008 release Holding Up the World. Of the new songs, the best are “Cover These Bones” - with Bobbie Lancaster sharing haunting and brooding vocals - and the lead track, “China”, s one of two with Grimm’s son Conner on bass. The elder Grimm sings of taking to the Ohio River, seeking redemption and hope, and feeling desperation. Tim Grimm’s given us the finest single album he’s ever released. And there is no one better that Grimm when writing music that is about Indiana, and about life. It may, compilation or not, be the best roots album of 2011.
The title track opens the album and you know what? It just gets ya! There and then, it grabs you and doesnt let go. My god its beautiful. Instantly hummable, with lyrics that engage your thoughts and make you both sad and happy simultaneously. What initially seems like a love song to his wife, like all the best songs it also says something else. But what is it? ...Holding up the world, so many things get broken, when youre holding up the world, you cant protect your heart.... Grimm is a storyteller, up there with the likes of Crowell, Earle and Jackson Browne. He sings of families being lost, the loss of rural America, returnees from Basra, slaves escaping a horrendous life, floods, yearning, anguish and the reason why people faced with such adversity carry on whilst being totally empathetic toward their plight or feelings. He also brings in other music genres within the Americana field like some Appalachian on "Or Bust". Bit like Woody Guthrie. Supported by Jason Wilber from John Prines band, and label mate Krista Detor, Grimm has restored my faith in todays folk music. It was starting to wane, but this guy has bought it back. Im not going to single out any other tracks for praise. I cant, because theyre all excellent. Its taken me ages to get around to reviewing this album and thats simply because Ive been too busy listening to it. Americana UK
“One of the best storytelling songwriters in America” Rootsville, Belgium
“Another great piece of Americana writing and playing. In these days of troubled times it’s good to hear the other side of America coming through loud and clear…. If you scratch the surface hard enough you will find the real writers shining through….” Lawrence Nitschke- AUSTRALIA
“one of the best albums of these last years….” Mike Penard, ISA Radio, FRANCE
“The Back Fields” will always be modern in the same way that Tracy Chapman’s music will never be “90’s music” and Hal Ketchum’s songs can’t strictly be termed “country.” Because it will never sound dated, naming a genre does Tim Grimm’s music a disservice. The banjo, harmonica and bluegrass inflections are beside the point. Even when the album sounds country, it’s either in a gritty or easy way….Above all, “The Back Fields” contains the best trait of great country music: it makes the specific universal and the universal personal…..The sound and emotional hues of “The Back Fields” are— very plainly and tenderly—timeless. Elizabeth Ross, The Herald-Times, Bloomington,IN
“One of the best folk-Americana records we’ve EVER heard.” Ctrl. Alt. Country
“ Grimm writes and sings in the tricky grey area between folk and country, where so many fall between the cracks, by turn evoking Woody Guthrie, whose 1913 Massacre he covers, and Johnny Cash….Grimm is a powerful enough writer and singer to reconcile these dichotomies on an album which, with it’s gripping rural story songs, can be compared to Nebraska, though Grimm, while often as dark as Springsteen, isn’t as pessimistic.” John Conquest, 3rd COAST MUSIC
“an engaging, perceptive songwriter—highly literate, subtly nuanced and inventive while retaining a traditionalist’s love for classic country folk and bluegrass… Grimm travels the highways and byways of rural America, searching every dark corner and crevice of the beaten path to find some sort of beauty and purity. His voice is world weary but never beaten…..” David Coonce, The Herald-Times, Bloomington, IN
“Grimm is another link in the chain of literate singer songwriters that sees a side to the story that we always miss. The songs are little novels that unfold slowly and then knock you off your feet when you’re not looking… A real find.” Village Records
“… a wealth of folk roots and engaging songs that play in the mind like vivid short stories or films…” Jim Manion, NO DEPRESSION