Album Review: Timmi Burrell - A Small Town Boy Story
It has all the ingredients a successful album needs, and longevity is its recipe.
Singer/songwriter isn’t an obtruding association if you think reggae, even though Bob Marley himself can be categorized as such. The term loses its hipsterish connotation soon if you check out Timmi Burrell’s music.
Born in Spanish Town, St. Catherine, Clive “Timmi” Burrell joined a dance group in High School days before he decided that music was his future. He moved to Negril, Westmoreland, where he had more opportunities to sing and prove his skills than in the rural areas he grew up. He worked as a barber to make a living when, he met producer Ralston Barrett in 2001. That same year he released his first official single Tear It Off on Barrett’s label B.I.G. Burrell continued working with him, as well as with Computer Paul of Boot Camp Records, and Richard Brown (Isle of Springs). Despite a longtime absence from the scene, Timmi Burrell, who went by the stage name Lemon for some time, never stopped recording music. He now presents his album debut, entitled A Small Town Boy Story, of which the first single Small Town Boy was already released last year.
Music had helped him to be strong and rise above the obstacles he had faced growing up, Burrell says. While many artists might state such motivation, in this case it helps to explain Burrell’s approach to music. It is not so much his fusion sound of roots reggae, dancehall, and R&B that singles out his tunes. It’s the songwriting that separates them from the bulk of reggae releases, as well as his ability to transport emotions through vocal technique and to highlight nuances of riddims other singers might left unnoticed. Music without a message is worthless to Burrell, and for him, that seems to include refraining from standard phrases and all too catchy hook lines.
The album credits list him on all but one of the 14 tracks as the first author. Despite the musical variety on display here, A Small Town Boy Story is a relatively stringent album. Timmi Burrell worked together with Jermaine “Tmar” Millington and Marc “MacLes” Leys of New Sound Records/MacLes Music Factory to realize it. MacLes played most of the instruments himself. Following the current trend in Jamaican music, lyrics and riddims have been carefully custom-crafted together to form an inseparable unity – no boring déjà vus here. The arrangements are opulent and rich in detail, but never too dense. You can listen to this soul-soothing album endlessly and still discover new aspects.
If the title of the album had you thinking sentimental rural idyll, you’re not too far from Burrell’s topics. He speaks out against the futile violence in Jamaica, sings love songs to his Queen and his mother, asks his baby not to play foolish games with him, advises us to be productive in life, and to enjoy life despite its hardships. Sometimes he does sound a bit maudlin. It’s Jah who pulls him through. The occasional Ganja tune isn’t missing, either. It’s the simple life he loves, but simple doesn’t mean it has to lack quality - it’s much the opposite.
This small town boy story will appeal to convinced urbanites just as well. It has all the ingredients a successful album needs, and longevity is its recipe. The Timmi Burrell that introduces himself on it is one of the most promising artists of 2014 already.
LISTEN TO THE FULL ALBUM BELOW:
Timmi Burrell - A Small Town Boy Story
DIGITAL RE-RELEASE [New Sound Records/Macles Music Factory Productions]
Release date: 04/01/2014
01. Rude Boy
02. They Wanna Murder We
04. Fools Game
05. Lazy Bug
07. Life Is For Living
08. True Love
09. Small Town Boy
10. Ain`t Perfect
11. Haters Spying
12. Smoke & Pass
13. Helping Hand
14. We Need Love