REVIEW: TIM BOWNESS – “Late Night Laments”
English vocalist (and occasional synth player) Tim Bowness is primarily known as the vocalist and lyricist for no-man with Steven Wilson (who mixed this album). But he has released several well-received solo albums in recent years and is set to release another one in late August. ‘Late Night Laments’ is the rather fitting name for this new release of quiet, atmospheric songs, as quiet late nights serve as an ideal time for listening to them. Fans of his work should know what to expect, and their expectations will most likely be met.
As most of his albums have been, this new release relies heavily on electronic music and beats. It begins with “Northern Rain” a moody yet gentle song with added vocals by Melanie Woods, which adds a nice rounded out sound to the song. Bowness of course relies on him, by this time, signature laid back and breathy style of singing that is instantly recognizable. The music is fittingly chill and sets up the rest of the album quite well.
Woods returns as backing vocalists on several songs, including the next song “I’m Better Now” which has a darker, almost menacing feel to it. Despite this being a solo album, this has a very no-man feel to it; more so than the rest of the album, and more so than his recent solo albums. He has a unique vocal style, and it works best with this melodicism and slightly atonal guitar work of Brian Hulse. And with lyrics like ‘two seconds of hate/ a lifetime of grieving’ it becomes of the darker songs that Tim has recorded in recent history, and one of the highlights of the album.
The continuing combination of quiet, almost peaceful music with more intense lyrical themes is “The Hitman Who Missed” which is dominated by soothing synths, and electric beats while being augmented by a vibraphone. The results are on the one hand striking, but at the same time, the entire affair is so laid back and peaceful, there remains little about it that really sticks in the listener’s mind for any length of time. This is something that I can, unfortunately, say about most of the album; it is enjoyable and chill listening experience, but I’m left at the end of it with little really sticking with me, and little to really say about it.
The album concludes with “One Last Call” a fitting late-night lament of bitter hearts, and better times. It is piano-driven with more subtle use of the vibraphone. One last call is made, and one last drink is taken, and just like that, the relationship is over. A universal theme for certain, and one that keeps many a person up late at night remembering.
With ‘Late Night Laments’ the increasingly prolific Tim Bowness has given the listener a 40-minute album of subtle, moody music, and lyrics and themes that get increasingly dark the more you listen and the more you pay attention. While hurt by its continual lackadaisical approach, there are still flashes of his gift as a songwriter, and arranger of songs. Long time fans will find what they’re looking for, but earlier albums will make a better starting off point for newcomers.