Preface: Tim Bowness is my favorite vocalist. He could sing Polka music with a drunk accordion player and drummer at the Schnitzel Platz (For those that live in the Chicago Area, you know of this place) every Friday night and bring the house down. And if he recorded it, I would buy it. I just wanted to make you aware of this going into this review. 🙂
I consider Tim Bowness to be the voice of Burning Shed records, a record label he helped start. A record label that can take my money whenever something new comes out. When I first found Burning Shed, it seemed like Tim was singing on every release I purchased from them. He is the voice of no-man, Plenty and Henry Fool and of course his solo work. He also guests on a bevy of other artists albums. The list is quite long. His voice and style fits any style of music. For example, here are two songs that Tim sings on that could not be more different, but his voice just fits so well.
Things I want to Tell You – no-man
No Celebrations – O.S.I.
See? Metal or ambient jazz, his voice fits them both perfectly.
Lets get to the review, shall we?
Before we go track by track on this, I want to list the musicians on this album: Brian Hulse, Fran Broady, Alistair Murphy, Peter Hammill, Jim Matheos, Steven Wilson, David Longdon, Ian Dixon, Andy Partridge, Kevin Godley, Colin Edwin, David K Jones, Tom Atherton, Dylan Howe, Charles Grimdale. Recongnize any names there? If you are into music, you will notice that is a pretty damn good lineup of musicians. Mixed by Steven Wilson and mastered by Steve Kitch. that is some hugely talented production. So, with that in mind, you have to think this is going to be an outstanding album full of incredible playing and sounding majestic. You would be correct.
This is the most diverse album Tim has ever created. True art from first note to last. His talent is on a scale like no other in my book, but you add that lineup of incredible musicians and the outcome is going to be, well, perfect.
Track one: I go Deeper. This song has the same feel as Tim’s last 2 solo albums. Colin Edwin’s bass on this is amazing. Tim’s voice floats above the instruments on this with a perfect balance. Clean and sharp, you can hear everything going on in this tune. A great opening track for this album. Smart and harmonic guitar solo that fades out into Tim’s voice wonderfully. A great single off the album.
Track two: The Train That Pulled Away. Opens with snare and violin. Tim’s voice comes in and weaves in with the violin. All though you are pulled in with the snare and violins, this song is all Tim’s vocals. I would love to hear this with the instruments stripped out. Tim’s voice is as comfortable as a warm blanket on a cool night. At the 2:40 mark we get Colin and his bass joining in with keys as well. If you close your eyes, the song seats you right into a Pullman car on a nice spring day. You open your eyes and you see a beautiful countryside float by in a blur. There is a comfort here. You want to listen again. Go ahead, you have time to take the other tracks in.
Track three: Rainmark. A simple beautiful song. This is pop goodness that should be on every radio station on earth. Horns and guitar, a stunning vocal performance, with an absolutely addictive groove. A guitar solo that has hints of Brian May (I hear Bijou here), so smart and with a tone that melts you. Jim Matheos, you are one hell of a guitarist, this solo is brilliant. The solo ends and it is Tim and a catchy keyboard and piano dance that sucks you more into this lovely tune. At 2:47 drums and Colin come in and my goodness gracious, we have a high point of beauty on this album! I smile and chuckle at its beauty. I am at peace and in love and I don’t care who knows it. But then, at 3:21, Tim takes it higher with his vocals. WOW.
Track four: Not Married Anymore. This is Tim’s melancholy side. A slow jazzy song with Tim’s signature lyrics. You are sitting in a dimly lit club, with cigarette smoke lingering above you. Tim is at the mic and piano with a drummer and stand up bass player. The crowd is transfixed on Tim as he sings with beautiful emotion. You take in the music and lyrics and Tim’s voice. The song is gone in a flash and you want more. You remember this moment and reminisce about it years later. Good times…
Track five: Flowers at the scene. Oh Colin and your stand up bass. I have mentioned Colin a lot so far. He shines on this album, and this song, I am just transfixed on his playing. Another jazzy tune. Lovely drums as well here and the co-play of Tim’s vocals with the guitar sucks you in. Another wonderful guitar solo here. Track four and five are as smooth as silk on the hip of the woman or man you love.
Track six: It’s the World. Well, this starts out different. This is not jazz. This track opens with an ominous guitar and horns. Tim comes in with the drums and bass to heighten the tension. “It’s the world that isn’t fair, its the praise that wasn’t there.” We have a slow driving rock song here with a groove and attitude. This is like the OSI tune posted above, but shorter and more to the point. Short and pissed. Well played Tim. Wrench thrown, album twist absorbed. Smile implemented on face.
Track seven: Borderline. This has a no-man Returning Jesus or Together We’re Stranger era song style, but with some incredible vocals with David Longdon from Big Big Train. A lovely song, but too short! I want more of the harmonic vocals here.
Track eight: Ghostlike. This is another signature Tim song. The play of instruments and vocals are hypnotic. There is a slight tension here lyric wise, but Tim’s vocal style lends a comfort that throws a wrench in where your emotions want to go. The bass and drums add to the tension as well, but Tim keeps everything balanced. Did I mention that this album sounds incredible? My goodness, it sounds incredible. You do not miss anything. Everything is balanced and right out front but not stepping on anyone’s toes. He’s walking away. We are all good.
Track nine: The War On Me. Man, I can listen to Tim sing all freakin day. He shines again on this. He is the focal point, but the music does not get lost. It enhances Tim’s beautiful vocals so well here. It is a perfect Tim Bowness song. It just cannot get better than this if you are a Tim Bowness fan.
Track ten: Killing to Survive. All that I said about the last song, repeat it here. this is another song that should be getting massive airplay. So much to enjoy here. There isn’t a person on earth that wouldn’t like this song if they heard it. It is really that good. Apparently it can get better.
Track eleven: What lies Here. The final track on this stunning album. A tasty little bit of guitar playing starts it off with some interesting bit of sounds. What takes place in the rest of the song is pure vocal bliss. Kevin Godley and Andy Partridge join Tim in vocals. The vocal highlight of this album. It is the highlight of the album period. It gave me goosebumps the first time I heard it. This is a just a stunningly beautiful song. I can hear the vocals on this song on loop for hours on end. I woke up at 2:30 AM a few nights ago and this song popped into my head so I had to go listen to it. I listened to it 5 times in a row. Sitting at our dining room table looking out into a window at darkness and I was at peace with all that is going on in my life. It was moving.
Ask me right now, and I will say this is my all time favorite Tim Bowness album. I thought Returning Jesus was Tim’s best performance, but I think this album is better. More complete, more diverse and shows off his voice and writing style better than RJ. Flowers At The Scene is a lovely album with 11 lovely songs. Tim has posted every song off the album on YouTube, but screw that, just go buy it and give Tim your money. My God this is a great album, please go out and pick up a copy. Throw it on the player, put some headphones on and enjoy in the peace it made me feel.
I hope you enjoyed the review, now go out and enjoy this album. Support incredible musicians like Tim and the rest of the talented humans on this album. IF YOU LIKE IT, BUY IT. And if you can, buy it directly from the Artist. Give them 100%. It is still OK to buy an actual CD by the way, your car has one still. Fill it with joy.