Reason to Believe-The Songs of Tim Hardin
(Full Time Hobby)
Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)
Those searching for the ultimate heartbreaking story of a musical talent destroyed by drugs will have a hard time topping the tragic life of 60s singer/songwriter Tim Hardin. Generally regarded as a folkie, Hardin’s phrasing and unusual if frequently simple sounding songs were influenced by jazz, blues and often accompanied by somewhat dated chamber styled strings. His gentle, melancholy voice and fatally beautiful compositions such as “Reason to Believe,” “Misty Roses” and “How Can We Hang On To a Dream” obscured a severely self-destructive, substance abusing personality seemingly at odds with his bittersweet, lilting approach. Hardin’s unhappy life story is neatly summarized in this tribute album’s liner notes, written by noted music scribe Barney Hoskyns, and his music is easily available in a few well annotated collections. Less appreciated is Hardin’s influence on more contemporary musicians such as Patti Smith and Okkervil River’s Will Scheff. Most won’t recognize more than a handful of names on this heartfelt set of thirteen Hardin covers, but these versions do justice to his songs and vision. Mark Lanegan’s deep, dreary voice propels “Red Balloon”’s hidden tale of addiction and the Smoke Fairies’ bring “If I Were a Carpenter,” arguably Hardin’s most famous track, to the ominous swamps only hinted at in the original. Kudos to the producers for unearthing a few obscurities such as Okkervil’s take on “It’ll Never Happen Again.” Even though most are not familiar with Pinkunoizu or many others that populate this thoughtful and often downbeat set, they recreate Hardin’s timeless melodies with deep respect, passion and an artistic vision all too rare for these types of tribute discs.