“The Only One Who Could Ever Reach Me
Was The Son Of A Preacher Man”
Tim Hulsman has a new album out. It’s called Dead Man’s Garden and it’s dark, intense and beguiling.
This is his third solo album (out on Only Blues Music) and was released in July. The album blurs most of the blues, folk, alt-country borders and the narrative comprises stories and snapshots of pivotal moments that have helped form Tim Hulsman’s life to this point.
Born in Tasmania in 1973, Tim learnt from an early age how to perform for an audience. He had 18 years personal experience with which to observe how to both captivate and hold people. But he’s spent the last 23 years estranged from the man who taught him, his father.
One of six children raised in a rigidly devout Jehovah’s Witness family, Tim’s father was a respected elder in the JW community, responsible for counselling and advising ‘the flock’ – and for ex-communicating members who were deemed to be straying, or worse – to be ‘unrepentant sinners’. Any music other than hymns and religious music was heavily regulated in the Hulsman home. Tim’s paternal uncle was a well-regarded jazz musician, but with him ‘outside the flock’, it only confirmed Tim’s parents’ belief that music would lead you astray.
At the age of 18, after years of argument and with compromise out of reach, Tim was ex-communicated from his family and the JW community. His expulsion was due to his desire to no longer follow religion, and instead seek a career in music.
Fast forward over two decades and Tim Hulsman is still whole-heartedly embraced in his relationship with music, having moved from rock ‘n’ roll to his more recent passion for acoustic-based music and story-telling, into the folk/blues scene.
The opening track is a version of the Ledbetter/Lomax classic “Goodnight Irene” which is both truthful to the original and yet with its own visionary take – it features, like many tracks to follow, a lap dobro (is that a Regal Black Lightning he’s holding on the cover?). It has an interesting train sound effects introduction that lends some authenticity. “Sweet Surrender” features Nina Grant and is a tender, finger-picking ballad with sweet harmonies. The title track is different – a plaintive, blues-infused tale of hard work, ghosts and creepiness.
“Things In Cages” starts as a tip-toe waltz, a little deranged, the author questioning life and its impact. It builds to a crescendo, before retreating to a subdued but unsettling conclusion …’nothing ever happens living in a cage‘… It’s reminiscent of Peter Gabriel and to me is a really profound piece. “Endless Deep Part II” is a short, delightful dobro instrumental. “Hold Your Head High” exhibits a lower vocal range, nice guitar work in a somewhat baroque rag. “Yours Finally” is a delight (also featuring Nina Grant) – a simple acoustic ballad about being trusting and opening yourself up again to the promise of love, despite its potential hurtful downside. “Silly Me” is a dobro-driven expressive love song about unfulfilled dreams. The closing song is a beauty. “Road Song” just prowls along, a Tony Joe White-type swamp boogie about travelling along the highway with what maybe a sticky end in sight – a foot stomping epic.
The players on the album are:
Tim Hulsman – vocals, slide guitar, electric and acoustic guitars, violin, percussion
Nina Grant – vocals, piano, guitar solo
Toby Lang – drums
Anita Quayle – cello
Amy Baker – violin
Todd & Alison Hubers – piano accordions
Tonilcalo Hulsmanez – flamenco guitar
The producer, engineer and mixer was Tristen Bird @ Bird On The Wires, Victoria Australia
To my mind, Tim Hulsman’s career change means religion’s loss is music’s gain.
Tim’s next show is at The Wesley Anne in Northcote, Melbourne – he’s supporting Josh Rennie-Hynes. Two great reasons to go. I might see you there.
DEAD MAN’S GARDEN TOUR DATES
Sunday 17th August
The Wesley Anne, NORTHCOTE VIC
Sunday 24th August
The Drunken Poet, WEST MELBOURNE VIC
Thursday 28th August
The Retreat Hotel, BRUNSWICK VIC
South Australian & Tasmanian tour dates will be announced in August.
Read about Dead Man’s Garden from Tim Hulsman
Via Annie Johnsson Publicity