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No Weapons, No Allies

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Album Review

On his debut album, Tim Larson provides ten songs' worth of stark tales and empathy for those in troubled situations via a darkly attractive mélange of sonic styles with roots ranging from Johnny Cash's commanding melodrama (perhaps unsurprisingly, both he and June Carter Cash are cited in the opening song "Sin City," one of several overt references to singing legends throughout the disc) to Nick Cave's theatrical doominess and Michael Gira's punishing reflections. Larson's clear, resonant voice helps tie together these strands, while musically he employs acoustic and electric guitars in a style that touches on folk and country roots as well as more recent psychedelic and shoegaze arrangements (plus, on the final song, a full band collaboration with the Black Beauties provides a great loud sendoff). The end result is something that's just out of sync enough with a lot of early 21st century trends; while Larson still needs time to fully develop a unique voice, he's not easily marketable indie rock by any stretch of the imagination, choosing heartfelt but stern performances over cheery singalongs or cuddly but mopy regrets. The title track is a prime example, capturing the mindset of a lonely figure left to reflect on life decisions that have kept him stuck in a rut without relief. An example of how well he works with standard tropes is the seemingly straightforward prison story "Stateville," where the first person narration of a convicted murderer's life turns into a horrifying portrayal of familial tragedy, all while maintaining a careful, steadily sung and played tone (the false ending, however, is a masterpiece of drama). There's plenty of sly humor as well, with more than a few songs referring to Larson's hometown of Chicago — referred to in "High and Lonesome" as a dull wasteland of "condos and cars and stupid ass bars."

No Weapons, No Allies, Tim Larson
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  • $9.90
  • Genres: Rock, Music
  • Released: Aug 06, 2007

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