Howdy Skies Records

Tim O’Brien has been busy collaborating with Darrell Scott, Earls Of Leicester, and Hot Rize. So, it’s little wonder that the award-winning folk and bluegrass singer/songwriter has taken four years to release this solo project, but it was definitely worth the wait. He’d started on an album a few years ago with some traveling colleagues—Gerry Paul, a guitarist from Wellington, New Zealand, and Trevor Hutchinson, a bassist from Dublin, Ireland—but busy schedules prevented the completion of the CD.

For this 11-track disc, O’Brien is more personal. “It’s kind of a breakup record,” he said. “I separated from my wife four years ago and got divorced a year after that.” This CD also gets a little more electric than usual. For a switch, he plays more banjo and electric guitar than mandolin. The CD has a rainbow of tasty recordings, including Michael Hurley’s bluesy “Ditty Boy Twang,” the Woody Guthrie/John Bragg Celtic-style number “Go Down To The Water,” and even some James Brown funk with “Get Up Offa That Thing,” a creative mixture of banjo, electric bass, guitar, and Hammond organ.

O’Brien’s multi-instrumentalist talents are equaled only perhaps by his brilliance as a songwriter. He has six original songs including the title-cut “Pompadour.” It kicks off the CD with a hilarious take on a bad hair day. Nothing creates a mental picture better than the verse: I looked like Christopher Walken run amuck with styling gel. The song poet skillfully uses everyday images on “I’m A Mess For You”: Fox in backyard rears her pups, rose bloom and buttercups / Roof is leaking, I don’t care, love is here, it’s everywhere / In my shoes and in my pants, in my voice and crooked stance / In my ears and on my mind, on this page it burns and shines.

Every song on this album is top choice. Thankfully, fans won’t have to wait four more years to hear more of his music. He has launched Shorter Order Sessions, his own digital download label that churns out a couple of tunes each month. (Howdy Skies Records, P.O. Box 41684, Nashville, TN 37204, www.timobrien.net.)BC

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