Album Review
I've Never Lived

I've Never Lived
by Timothy Blackman


Review Date
29th September 2010
Reviewed by
Brannavan Gnanalingam

Itís an arresting cover image. A lion is coloured in orange, almost naively, but like the album contained within, thereís a thing of beauty and fierceness hidden within something so simple. Itís almost as if those little things which donít quite fit into pre-determined lines are just as important. Timothy Blackmanís debut album Iíve Never Lived is arresting in how close it sounds to you, warts and all Ė Blackman sounds like heís having a conversation with you and youíve got no option but to take notice of his point of view. It helps that heís got a compelling voice and raw moving songs, and you realise once youíve stepped back from the album that his point of view is also well-worth listening to.

The album speeds by at only 28 minutes, matching the sparse arrangements and Blackmanís m.o. of only including whatís needed. ĎRain Donít Choose Where It Fallsí is a great opener, with a sweet melody and beautifully judged guitar solo (which ultimately simply replays the vocal line, but just works). ĎWaltz for a Decent Maní uses its spare production to perfectly match Blackmanís naked vocal performance. The excellent ĎWhere the Caterpillars Liveí makes use of loud/soft guitarwork and runny chords in the verses in order to slip into a cathartic chorus in which Blackman almost wistfully exhales, ĎIíve never lived aloneí. ĎJune 12thí is all unspoken regret, while ĎDefeat and Retreatí is a fitting closer: unsteady time signatures, a voice which twists and turns towards and away from the mic, almost as if the confusion and restlessness of the album preceding the song has one last attempt to try and reconcile.

The album isnít perfect, sure, Blackmanís voice can occasionally buckle (hell, that never stopped the likes of Jeff Mangum from writing masterpieces), and the song-writing is capable of supporting much more within each song. But as a debut, itís a highly promising work, and Blackman demonstrates clearly that he has the potential to craft a distinctive and iconoclastic musical personality.


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