Between the fractured string intro and the punchy vocal harmonies that ensue just beyond the first few bars, there’s an argument to be made that Timberline’s “Now” is the ultimate identity track in his new album Florescence. Captivating on the strength of its simplicity and lyrical honesty, “Now” neither cuts corners nor buys into the indulgence of a modern surreal pop movement. Much like the other gems occupying the tracklist of Florescence, this tune embodies the middle-ground between outsider folk and smart indie singer/songwriters ala the post-grunge Northwest. Scarcely is there a moment in this vast collection of material that feels even remotely singular; through a barebones aesthetic as familiar to the coffeehouse crowd as it is the lone hipster against a Rocky Mountain backdrop, duality takes center stage in this LP and spellbinds anyone within earshot of the melodicism it frames.
There’s as much personality to “Jeep,” “Temporary,” “Telogen,” and “So Lost” as there is the soulful player performing them for us, and I like that the line between man and material presence is frequently obscured in Florescence. We never face a bland patch in this tracklist, nor a sense of incomplete emotionality in any of the lyrics contained within it – on the contrary, even the most stunningly basic of compositions feels almost symphonic because of the weight Timberline is putting into every word he sings here. It’s a major difference from what I’ve been hearing out of the mainstream beat this summer, and something I think a lot of Gen Z folk fans are going to be particularly attracted to.
Minimalism has, for all intents and purposes, become the most celebrated aesthetic of the emerging generation of singer/songwriter enthusiasts, but I can’t say that I’ve witnessed another player utilizing it in the unique manner that Timberline is in this record. If you’ve heard Messy before, you already know that his talents aren’t commonplace in or outside of his insular scene at the moment, but here we find a player sounding so profoundly in touch with his medium that it’s hard to believe he isn’t focusing solely on this half of his professional life right now. “Horsetooth,” “Second Guess,” “February 13th,” “Static;” these songs speak to the essence of what a classic troubadour was always meant to be, and not necessarily what it’s been depicted as today.
Florescence and its twenty terrific new songs provide us a beautiful introduction to the music of Timberline, and while it was released last year, I think this record is as fresh now as it was the day it first dropped for one glaring reason – the heart its creator put into every inch of its content. From “Better Days” to “Hi” and “I Miss Now,” the soft harmonies of Foals and the uncompromisingly lo-fi poeticisms of Daniel Johnston can be heard in the roots of Florescence but not necessarily in its cosmetics. To be perfectly honest, it’s hard for me to relate any other players to Timberline as he’s definitely a one-of-a-kind figure within this contemporary scene.
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