Hearing one lone voice sing of heartbreak and sorrow often seems more intensely honest than the sound of several. Perhaps that’s why the debut solo album from Boy & Bear's Tim Hart is so beautifully melancholy and enthralling from one minute to the next. The drummer and vocalist has decided to step out from behind the kit with a very unpretentious debut as a singer/songwriter and guitarist.
But Boy & Bear fans, don't panic. Rest easy in the assurance Tim won’t be quitting the award-winning Sydney quintuplet and instead be pleased you have another indie-folk record to chill out to and some deep lyrics to interpret in Milling The Wind. “I’m empty and rotten, silent as a ghost town forgotten, not the man you wanted” are just some of the words crooned in "Borrowed and Vacant"; a dark favourite on the album full of slow piano melodies and high hums. Other songs like "So Come The Rain" and "White Man/Our Share of Deceiving" follow suit with a hint of Bob Dylan, Mumford & Sons and something reminiscent of American country music with a banjo thrown in for good measure.
Although the lyrics are deep, the 12-track album isn’t all dark and twisted. It moves effortlessly and unpretentiously from moody crescendos to quick guitar-picking melodies. "Architects" starts things off on a higher note and "Stride by Stride" continues in the same vein with surprisingly inspirational lyrics and a soothing harmonica. Listening to "The Old Gate" (a collaboration with Sydney singer/songwriter Faith Lee) it’s easy to fade off into an imaginary world of sunshine, long grass and a bearded Tim Hart playing acoustic guitar to a small circle of barefoot friends. Dreamy, in a word.
The album may not seem extremely varied on first listen, but it quickly builds momentum after a few whirls around iTunes and works its way into the heart. The songs aren’t quite as catchy and memorable as they could be, but there’s no doubt Tim's solo effort takes a handful of B&B's folk charm, adds a lot of natural song-writing and musical ability (including collaborations), and finishes with enough soul to keep the cynics at bay. The result is a hauntingly honest, engaging debut album that can lift you up or pull you down with the strum of a string. Best listened to on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
Review Score: 7.5 out of 10.
Photo: Tim Hart (Alain Bouvier ©)