Just as his best-known band, Cordelia’s Dad, reconvene, Tim Eriksen releases his first solo album, which sounds almost exactly like the band’s own most recent releases. Eriksen started out as a rocker, but he’s also always been interested in the songs that have passed down through American tradition, and in their intimate acquaintance with death. This album presents some of the old numbers in his repertoire (and a couple of his own) with sublime, ferocious simplicity and directness. A few feature only his unmistakable voice molded by his experience singing shape-note hymns (vibratoless, but festooned with grace notes), including an a cappella version of Roscoe Holcomb’s " Village Churchyard " on which he opens up and rasps like a bleeding wound for eight terrifying minutes. Others showcase his fingerpicking technique — Martin Carthy, who provides the blurb on the package, is clearly a big influence on Eriksen’s guitar playing and his general approach to the material — or his spirited fiddling. There’s a remarkable variety of material here, and he plays it all with the gusto of someone who’s performed these songs a thousand times and loves them better each time.
(Cordelia’s Dad perform next Friday, June 8, at Club Passim. Call 617-492-7679.)
Issue Date: May 31 - June 7, 2001