The happy anticipation over a new release by the Tim Lee 3 is tempered by the fact that the band is going on hiatus. While that’s sad news, there’s still a silver lining in the fact that their splinter group, Bark, will continue, and that they leave a bounty of excellent music in their wake. If Tin, Man is to serve a final requiem, it’s a terrific record to bow out on, all stunning, readily reliable rockers, replete with the driving delivery that they’ve long been known for. Recorded both at Arbor Studio by John Baker and Gray Comer and at Top Hat Recording by John Harvey and Mary Podio (the pair also mixed and mastered the recording), it’s the album that ultimately realizes the band’s full potential, making it the postscript they so decidedly deserve.
Of course, it’s little wonder that Tim Lee is widely known as the guitarist who sets the high bar in his home environs of East Tennessee, and in many ways Tin, Man recalls the compelling sound fostered through his earliest efforts with the Windbreakers, a power pop combo that was sadly unappreciated but still wholly committed to the cause.
This time around, Lee and his colleagues — bassist/vocalist Susan Lee and drummer/percussionist Chris Bratta — still have their eyes on the prize, thanks to a set of songs packed with resilience and resolve. Album opener “Superstition” sets the tone, its cascading choruses making for an absolutely emphatic encounter. Every song that follows, from the tenacious and tempestuous “Kryptonite” through to the tangled tones of album closer “Expansive Proposition” follows suit, each a gritty, no-compromise rocker that brings to mind the post punk fury of purveyed by X’s John Doe and Exene Cervenka. And while “Lodger” echoes the breezy jangle of the Byrds, that edgy attitude remains undiminished. Indeed, the track that follows, “Fall From Grace,” boasts an eminently catchy chorus, all the better to maintain a rock solid impression. Likewise, the solid Bo Diddley beat of “Less Than Royalty” makes it clear their reverence for the roots is as unshakable as it’s always been.
To be sure, the Tim Lee 3 have never stood in anyone’s shadow; quite to the contrary, they have always set the standard. Indeed, these concise, cohesive rockers make the point that the Tim Lee 3 deserve due recognition as one capable combo.