Tim Booth’s long-awaited solo follow up to Bone.
Standard CD / Vinyl – As Far As I Can See / Buried Alive / Harbour / All About Time / The Point Of Darkness / Consequences / Bless Them All / Monsters / Do Yourself A Favour / Shatters / Gloria Descends
Deluxe CD (with vinyl only) – As Far As I Can See / Buried Alive / Harbour / All About Time / The Point Of Darkness / Consequences / Bless Them All / Monsters / Do Yourself A Favour / Shatters / Gloria Descends / Faith / Next Door To Heaven / Consequences (demo) / As Far As I Can See (demo)
Amazon special edition download featuring exclusive track Surrender
I-Tunes special edition download featuring exclusive track Love Life
16 page booklet featuring Tim’s writings
|Release Name:||Love Life|
|Artist Name:||Tim Booth|
|Release Date:||4th April 2011|
|Label:||Monkey God Records|
|Produced:||Lee Muddy Baker|
|Engineered:||Ben McDonagh Booth|
|Mixed:||Lee Muddy Baker|
|Additional Musicians:||Lee Muddy Baker, Ben McDonagh Booth|
Love Life has been a long time coming. Fresh from the celebratory gigs that accompanied the Bone album in 2004, Tim wanted to get back into the studio and work on a follow-up. Things didn’t come together as quickly as he hoped due to other commitments for him and his partner-in-crime Lee Muddy Baker. Then James came calling and the album got put on hold, to be worked on when the James rollercoaster paused for breath and now, as the rest of James promised Tim, there’s time and space for this rather beautiful record to make its entrance into the world.
Bone was born in a world post-James, where there was no other outlet for Tim’s passion for writing lyrics and making music and that, combined with Baker’s often unorthodox but effective working methods, meant that the album jumped from one theme and one mood to the next, usually within the same song, a patchwork, which given its birth in two Brighton bedrooms, gave it a charm and a life that made it very Tim Booth and very un-Jamesian.
Love Life comes out in a very different environment. James are back, playing arenas, releasing a successful album in Hey Ma and two well-received mini-albums The Night Before and The Morning After. Logically, there’s no need for this record, but when was logic a factor in the music business. This is an album that needed to be made, needed to be heard, free from the constraints of a band of seven, and it succeeds in being a Tim Booth album and not an album by that bloke out of James.
As Far As I Can See is one of the oldest songs of the album, having been played accompanied by a man on a saw back in 2006 at a rare solo outing in Brighton. It is the first song Tim has written on his own, put together on an omni-chord, before being passed to Lee to weave his magic. Its origins make it the simplest song on the album. It’s an unashamed but grounded love song to Tim’s wife Kate, starting from the first moment they met, when on his own admission he knew “I was in trouble”, through to the day to day domesticity that everyone, even internationally recognised musicians, go through at home.
Buried Alive deals with the mundanity of married life, from the viewpoint of a female friend. Familiar to many as the free download from signing up to the mailing list, the album version starts with a twist of some violin and the lyrics have been changed quite substantially from the demo, testimony to the very fluid working methods that this album has been produced with.
Harbour is the first of the three songs co-written with KK, and showcases a soulful side to Tim’s voice over a very simple loop that allows the lyrics to be emphasised without the need to turn up the volume to compete. It covers a love-hate relationship that survives on the adrenalin of the emotions and some of the conflicts within that relationship – “You are my safe harbour, and I am your storm”.
All About Time is the pop moment on the album, even though the sing-along chorus of “Johnny’s on the phone, Johnny’s online, Johnny’s in love, everything’s alive, Johnny thinks it’s all about faith but it’s all about time” doesn’t kick in until nearly two minutes in after Tim has reflected on the pace and soullessness of modern life – “zombies in the shopping mall, heart disconnected from our feet”.
The Point Of Darkness demonstrates exactly why this is a Tim Booth album and not a James album. Tim’s voice is almost acting as an instrument, dictating the pace and mood of the song in a way the rigidity of a seven-piece band doesn’t allow any singer. The song is trying to encourage someone who’s down out of their malaise, the clouds and darkness of the verse replaced by stars and light in the chorus, before the Silverlake Choir join Tim in taking the song to an unexpected crescendo. Recorded with days to go to the album deadline, the choir’s input is vital to the positive note on which the song finishes.
Consequences and Bless Them All are the two centrepieces of the album. The former is another KK co-write and has menacing but understated undertones in the music as Tim sings, again from a female perspective, about the balance between comfort in a relationship and the desire for something different that could tear everything apart (“you’re crossing the line between the thought and deed, there’s consequences”).
The latter is my favourite. Tim’s words feel like they’re a stream of consciousness, made up on the spot, but making complete sense together, an attack on evil forces at work in the world, mocking their ignorance, and how hope and love are the only antidotes. It ends with a crescendo of the choir with the chorus as Tim sings over the top about love, war, terror and natural disaster. It is the defining moment of Love Life.
Monsters is plain off the wall. The title is an intriguing one, as its nearest lineage is the James’ song Of Monsters And Heroes And Men, but this is the twisted and deranged version of the story, fraught with fear and paranoia from dark places – “With my blood he wrote AND, He wrote, EVE, He wrote, GOD. He wrote, LOVE, he wrote EVIL backwards”. Again, the music complements the lyrics wonderfully – there’s a chemistry between Lee and Tim that was evident on Bone, but it fits together so naturally on this album.
From the insanity of Monsters, Do Yourself A Favour is a gentle comedown. It’s a plea from an infatuated lover to their partner to let themselves go, take a risk and dive into their relationship.
Shatters muses on one of Tim’s favourite subject matters. The verses are almost read rather than sung, telling the story of finding oneself in a post-apocalyptic messed-up situation, before bursting into the chorus which turns pain, loss and disaster into experiences that bring people love, understanding and allows them to grow.
The final song, Gloria Descends, is a true life story, also reflected in one of Tim’s writings he premiered at last year’s Latitude festival, of the feelings he experienced last year when he nearly drowned on holiday.
Love Life ultimately succeeds where an album seven years in the making has no right to. Where you expect it to be disjointed because of the recording process, it makes perfect sense. It works together from start to finish and it is ultimately defined by the very special chemistry between Tim and Lee, as Lee lets Tim roam free over the music without losing his own personality in the mix, it’s a very neat trick. Whilst immediately accessible, it gives you something new on every listen.
It’s not a Tim Booth solo album, it’s very definitely not a James-lite album, it is however the best album you’re likely to hear this year.
This is an album that you feel Booth needed to make. It is not just a worthy successor to ‘Bone’, it actually surpasses it. As to whether ‘Love Life’ is an instruction or an insight, well, it’s actually a little of both and much else besides. But don’t take my word for it, do yourself a favour and have a listen. The consequences will be wonderful.
- Los Angeles Molly Malone’s – 1st March 2012
- Hop Farm Festival – 2nd July 2011
- Patras Old Church – 8th May 2011
- Patras Politea – 8th May 2011
- Athens Iera Odos – 7th May 2011
- Thessaloniki Principal – 6th May 2011
- London Camden Dingwalls – 3rd May 2011
- Brighton Komedia – 2nd May 2011
- Sheffield Leadmill – 30th April 2011
- Wrexham Glyndwr University – 28th April 2011
- Leeds Cockpit – 27th April 2011
- Cambridge Junction 2 – 26th April 2011
- Birmingham Glee Club – 24th April 2011
- Kendal Brewery Arts Centre – 23rd April 2011
- Glasgow Oran Mor – 21st April 2011
- Manchester Club Academy – 20th April 2011
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