Chris Timbers Releases “Don’t Mind the Rain”
Virginia born Chris Timbers doesn’t traffic in bullshit. It’s been squeezed out of him in blood, tears, and music. His first solo album in three years, Gotta Get On, comes half-cloaked in the shadows of time lost in a federal detention facility. Another point of view, however, and born out by the songwriting itself, is that the songs included on Gotta Get On are musical steps into a new day for Timbers. Any act of creation, no matter how sad the subject, is an affirmation of life. Chris Timbers understands this as few other songwriters do.
His new single “Don’t Mind the Rain” continues proving that point. The emphatic shuffle tempo driving the music chugs at listeners copped from the sound of classic Johnny Cash Sun recordings. It has more sonic muscle than Cash and the Tennessee Two could ever muster, but country and early rock devotees will feel right at home. The tight and streamlined ensemble sound captures your immediate attention.
Timbers’ lyrics are far better than above average. He does a conscious and well-crafted job of lacing the words with the right balance of originality and namechecking the traditional language of such songs. This is an outlaw song, not a literal reference to Willie, Waylon, and their ilk, but instead a song about The Other. The outsider vagabond never at home in the world. Timbers taps into that with undeniable freshness.
He knows what he’s doing. The lyrics reveal that, but there’s an audible assertiveness in his attack. Timbers owns every line of this song but never overplays his hand. He knows the exact chords to strike that will bring listeners into this experience and draws emotive energy from the arrangement. It will be a near perfect marriage of words, vocal, and music for some listeners.
He’s definitely working in an identifiable tradition. You can draw any number of parallels between Timbers’ music and past singer/songwriters such as Cash, Merle Haggard, Hank Williams Sr., and others. He wears the comparison proudly, there’s nothing ironic about “Don’t Mind the Rain”, and sings like a man with nothing to lose.
Knowing about his recent struggles isn’t necessary for the song to sink in deep. Listeners ignorant of the backstory behind Gotta Get On and singles such as this will still enjoy his sharp take on a traditional point of view. The many personal touches scattered throughout the song help set it apart from much modern Americana and country today. Timbers’ alienation and willingness to do what his heart says will connect with people across the board.
It’s tantalizing to consider where he will be in another five years. It feels and sounds like an artist working at or near the peak of his powers and runs such as that can last a decade or more. Especially under circumstances like this. Chris Timbers’ “Don’t Mind the Rain” is as classic country/rock as it comes, but it’s more. It’s the work of a songwriter with something personal to say and well worth hearing.