Ball & Chain Entertainment [Release date 09.02.15]
Timothy Craig’s ‘360 Degrees’ is aimed at the country tinged, heartland crossover rock market, populated by Stetson wearing dudes in blue jeans, bling and white t shirts.
It’s music with a wide appeal, but while ‘360 Degrees’ has some fine moments it tries too hard to fit an existing formula and teeters on the brink of being too country for rock fans and vice versa. That said, Timothy’s heartfelt songs have enough booming hooks to draw the listener in to his narratives.
‘360 Degrees’ is his 7th album, and suggests he’s an accomplished singer songwriter and producer who has honed his craft in tandem with a slick band, on an album that has a consistent flow and resonating sound.
Timothy’s songs strike a balance between optimism, wonder and realism, as he moves from the broken relationship song of ‘Crime Of The Century’, the emotive ballad ‘One Small Miracle’ and the confident rocker ‘Learning To Live Without You’, to the optimistic summery feel of ‘State Line’ and the Springsteen style grandeur of ‘Stand Still’.
At best, he’s a melodic rocker who keeps one foot solidly in the contemporary Nashville camp as evidenced by the hard rock driven, but country tinged opener ‘Flesh n’ Blood’, on which Lauren Saks’ feverish violin and Donny Roberts ripping guitar work pushes the arrangement to the limit.
The opening mandolin line of ‘Don’t Walk Away’ gives the song its rootsy feel alongside big twanging chords, call and response vocals and a catchy hook, on a song that probably tries too hard to be commercial.
‘One Small Miracle’ is the album highlight and is reason enough to buy the album. A sonorous violin line, an aching vocal, some subtly woven dynamics and a defining lyric segue into the enveloping hook, as Timothy’s vocal soars: “I’m running out of answers, what am I supposed to do, Is there anybody up there, can’t you hear my voice, can’t you feel my pain, someone send me an angel, someone send me angel”.
The banjo led ‘Smell The Roses’ is almost equally good, with a big back beat and prickly lyrics: “I’m not in love, so I’m not in pain, but I feel they could be two the same, I’m not in heaven, no no, and I’m not in hell, but sometimes it gets so hard to tell”.
Former Web Wilder guitarist Donny Roberts adds chiming, sparkling lines over which Timothy emotes expressively.
‘Learning to Live’ opens with a contrasting violin intro and another big drum sound, but settles on being a mid tempo rocker with a sweeping hook and big wall of sound, while the snappy ‘Can’t You Feel My Heart’ is a mid tempo melodic country rocker.
The curious thing about ‘360 Degrees’ is that the best songs don’t necessarily represent the album as a whole. Timothy Craig is a free spirited heartfelt songwriter who at his best has the ability to emotionally engage us, even if the album as whole tries a little too hard to cast him as the next Rascal Flatts crossover band. ****
Review by Pete Feenstra
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