Utilizing melodic fragility doesn’t always have to mean delivering a moderately weakened or watered-down composition in comparison to what you might have in a more assertive tone, and no other singer/songwriter have I heard prove this so convincingly as Timberline has in the new album Florescence. At about sixty minutes in total length but containing no less than twenty different songs, one could take a peek at Florescence and foolishly deem it an overstuffed effort meant to mimic the classic DIY anti-folk tapes of the ‘80s and ‘90s, when in reality its contents are far more focused than its influences’ would have been. Timberline affects a mood here, and more than this, an entire aesthetic that feels and sounds like his own in every track.
There’s a lot of introspection in songs like “Shade,” “I Miss Now,” “Every Night,” and “Flannel,” but it stops well short of the self-consciousness I’ve heard in a lot of hipster efforts stylized similarly to what we’re hearing in Florescence. The hesitation in Timberline’s heart never spills over into the verses nor his execution in “Static,” “Hi,” “August Snows,” “Second Guess,” and the unforgettable “Temporary;” if anything, he cuts into this tracklist with a swagger that would suggest a lot of dedicated hours rehearsing this material before he ever decided to record it properly. It’s not robotic, but there’s an obvious intimacy within the music that doesn’t exist when a player threw it together on the fly in a last-ditch attempt to meet a deadline.
I love the rustic feel of the master mix, and though it could have been a little more streamlined and still sounded pretty gritty where it counts, I prefer the DIY sensibilities Timberline decided to preserve in this album. It’s not like we’re listening to an outright cassette, but there’s certainly a raw feel to the harmonies that touches my heart no matter what he’s singing to us in Florescence, and as much as his competition would like to have this as a feature in their own work, I don’t know that there are very many players who have the kind of depth this one does to produce something as broad and I intuitive as his new LP is from every angle we look at it.
Timberline’s Florescence is café folk that the non-pretentious acoustic music fans of the world can hoist up as a genuine alternative to the dribble a lot of the mainstream has been packaging and releasing in 2020 and 2021, and I doubt I’m going to be the lone critic singing its praises before this season has ended. This is casual, fleetingly melancholic, ultimately cathartic, and stacked with more poetic fireworks in the likes of “Now,” the title cut, “So Lost,” and “August Snows” than you’re going to hear from any other source in the mountain time zone at the moment, and while it hasn’t scored major commercial success just yet, observers like me are already calling it one of the most powerful and effective LPs of the past two years.
by Jackson Keane