It’s hard to believe that it’s been four years since Tim O’Brien’s last solo offering. In the interim he’s been very active in his collaborations with the likes of Darrell Scott, Jerry Douglas’s Earls of Leicester and the ever popular Hot Rize whom we had the pleasure of catching at this year’s Purbeck Valley Folk Festival. There was as much cheering as there was laughing, none more so when they left stage to reappear in colourful disguise as Honky-Tonk outfit Red Knuckles and the Trailblazers.
How the man found time to record a new album we have no idea. But what do we know? Well according to O’Brien Pompadour is a “kind of a breakup record… I separated from my wife four years ago and got divorced a year after that. So there’s a breakup, an assessment and ultimately delight at the end.”
When talking of what separates this from his previous eclectic releases he declares “Now, with Pompadour, I’ve sort of melded things together, like the flavours in a stew.” Whilst that may be so, it doesn’t fall short on the variety front as it apparently swirls together bits of bluegrass, deep-roots Appalachian music, field hollers, old-school rock ‘n’ roll, trad jazz and even James Brownian funk on “Get Up Offa That Thing” – a declaration to dance, one to cure all ills including heartache.
Pompadour took root about three years ago when he welcomed some traveling colleagues to Nashville. “Gerry Paul is a guitarist from Wellington, New Zealand, and Trevor Hutchinson is a bassist from Dublin, Ireland,” O’Brien says. “We grabbed a couple of days and recorded. We meant to tour together behind this recording, but we’re all so busy with our other projects. The tracks sat around a while before I started finishing them on my own. Then on the first of this year, my partner Jan and I made a leap, and launched Short Order Sessions (SOS) to put some of this stuff out while I was touring with Hot Rize.”
In fact, four of the tracks have already been released on SOS: the Celtic-flavoured Woody Guthrie / Billy Bragg composition “Go Down To The Water”, the mandolin blues of Michael Hurley’s “Ditty Boy Twang, Dan Reeder’s ironic “The Tulips On The Table”, and the aforementioned James Brown tune.
Musically we can expect some electric ventures: “Pompadour jumps a little bit more into electric music than usual for me,” he says. “I play more banjo and electric guitar on it than mandolin, which is a switch. It’s more personal than a lot of what I’ve done before.”
In conclusion he states “It hangs together and tells a story. It’s honest. It shows who I am as a person as well as a musician. That’s something I can be proud of.”
We’re looking forward to hearing it all.
Pompadour is released 16th January 2016.
Tim will be touring the album in the UK in January and February including Glasgow’s Celtic Connections (22, 23 Jan) and Nell’s Jazz & Blues Club in London, (2 Feb). Full dates below:
UK Dates: January / February 2016
Fri 22 Jan. – GLASGOW, St Andrews In The Square – Celtic Connections
Sat 23 Jan. – GLASGOW, Strathclyde Suite – Celtic Connections
Fri 29 Jan. – SALTAIR, The Live Room @ Caroline Social Club
Sat 30 Jan. – LEEK, Foxlowe Arts Centre
Sun 31 Jan. – TOPSHAM, Topsham Folk Club
Mon 01 Feb. – WELLINGTON, Beambridge Inn
Tue 02 Feb. – LONDON, Nells Jazz & Blues Club
Wed 03 Feb. – SHEFFIELD, The Greystones
Fri 05 Feb. – STOUD, The Old Convent
Sat 06 Feb. – GATESHEAD, The Sage
Sun 07 Feb. – BURY, The Met