Sometimes you can tell whether an artist is good just by his album titles. Just take a gander at the titlesJeff Finlinhas come up with over the years:Somewhere South of Wonder,Epinonymous,Ballad of a Plain Man, and my favorite,The Tao of Motor Oil. Outstanding titles. Poetic titles. Titles which made me want to pick up the edge of the tarp just to see what was underneath.
My first foray into Finlinland wasThe Taoand it was every bit the musical adventure I'd hoped. I had not expected a voice as unique nor with the depth of soul which swept me away that first listen. It lies somewhere between, say, that ofRoger MillerandJohnny Cashwithout the Nashville accent. Andnot unlikeTom Housewhose recentWinding Down the Roadalbum completely fried my brain, there was more substance to the lyrics than I had expected. Change that to “is”. Finlin continues the way ofThe TaowithMy Moby Dick, the songs dripping life like water out of a leaking faucet. Life from different angles. Maybe life from all angles, though “all” presumes a finite world.
There is something about Finlin which I find a bit disarming each time I listen. Perhaps it is that he is, again likeTom House, brutally honest in his approach--- to music, to poetry and prose (there is a companion book toMy Moby DicktitledTime Less Travel), to life. I would say “to love” also, but it seems all songwriters pay homage to love and so few pay proper respect to life. The positive and negative aspects.
I hear soul in his voice--- a poetic soul. And there is a touch of noir to his approach--- a not so distant reverb in the guitar and sometimes the voice which screams high contrast black & white. Certain moments, I expect to hear a howling desert wind or sounds from a desolate mountainside. I even conjure up scenes from the underground--- night time back alleys with steam escaping through rusted grates. Those are not Finlin's images. Those are mine. But they are painted withJeff Finlin's music andJeff Finlin's lyrics and, oh, don't I wish I had a copy ofTime Less Travelif only to find out how his views and mine parallel or juxtapose.
I have yet to listen to all of Finlin's works, though I have that in mind. The man intrigues me. He lived in Fort Collins CO until just recently when he opted for the greener pastures of Nashville. Perhaps in hopes of more success. Perhaps just because he needed a change. We all do, sometimes. I just hope it doesn't change his vision.
You know, I once wrote a review forThe Tao of Motor Oil. You should read it. Not because I want to deflect attention fromMobybut because I think I got him down fairly well musically in that review. You want to know what I think of Finlin's music?This should give you an idea.