Review: Tim Moxam, “Marlborough Hall”

We’ve enjoyed music from Tim Moxam over the last few years, due in part to some rotation on the SiriusXM Canadian music stations that we frequently listen to.  How can anybody possibly forget his fantastic breakout single, “Live In The Bedroom,” which not only brought his music to my attention, but later earned a spot on the soundtrack for the hit TV show, “Orphan Black?”  What we find hard to believe, however, is that Tim Moxam has never warranted a mention here on our page, at least until now – it’s certainly time to end that poor oversight on our part.

With the upcoming release of his stunning sophomore album, “Marlborough Hall,” on March 29th, courtesy of Roaring Girl Records, Tim is poised to overload your senses very quickly with this collection of nine original tunes.  Produced by acclaimed musician/engineer Chris Stringer (Megan Bonnell, The Wooden Sky), and recorded at the Union Sound Company studio, Toronto based Moxam is joined not only by multi-instrumentalist Adrian Cook here, but by friends Josh Van Tassell (percussion), Charles James (bass), and vocalist Ivy Mairi.  With the carefully timed releases of both “Rich Man” and the current single, “Honesty,” as teaser tracks for the new album, “Marlborough Hall” is the long-awaited and highly anticipated successor to his previous “Soft Summer” release.  “‘Soft Summer’ was about loss and heartbreak, about being traumatized by love and friendships.  ‘Marlborough Hall’ is about maturity and confidence,” shares Moxam.  “It’s about coming to terms with who I am and owning that. It’s about honesty.”

With notable nods to the sounds of past generations (do you detect the slight doo-wop hints too?), Moxam quickly grabs your attention with “Honesty,” the first of many new tracks that offer a dialogue of love, loss and personal growth.  “Some of the most defining moments of our lives take place in our twenties.  We try on different skins, shedding old ones as we grow and evolve,” he explains.  “We retain bits of each manifestation of our developing personalities, eventually forming a version of ourselves that we choose to present to the world around us … [yet] beneath each mask we wear is our honest selves. That, we cannot hide from.”

With tracks such as “Goodbye Already,” “Rich Man” and “Howling At The Moon,” Tim is more than comfortable sharing his dialogue through some feel-good tunes, with an added up-tempo emphasis courtesy of his supporting cast.  Be sure to pay attention to “There Is A Demon,” where Moxam’s vocals are accentuated by some great soul back-beats and funky bass riffs to give this one a truly unique vibe.  If you love this element, and want some slower-soul sounds, skip to “Queen Of My Heart,” where the discreet instrumentation allows Tim’s vocal chords to stand out, and demonstrate the versatility of his range.  Followed by the title track, the pace remains calm while Moxam returns to his folk-roots sound, closing the album with this beautifully penned ballad that was inspired in part by an evening at a Winnipeg hotel with the same name.

While most tracks come in at well under four minutes in length, naturally, there are a pair of significantly lengthier tracks that quickly earned frequent hits of the repeat button for me whilst composing my thoughts here.  With a run-time of 4:50, “Mutual Friend” is an incredibly personal and moving power ballad, with soft guitar strums and soothing lyrics that are ultimately renewed by deliberate piano strokes and cymbal crashes to truly overwhelm you.  Now skip to the atmospheric 5:42 epic that is “All I Feel,” and see if the slow and soothing pace lures your finger to hover over the repeat button, just like mine.  Moxam perfectly describes this one in his online album bio; “The candlelit, hypnotic ‘All I Feel’ [features] a compelling vocal performance nudged forward by ambient sax and synths, [and] eavesdrops on his negotiations of the terms to the end of a long, faithful friendship.”  And how about the drawn out instrumental that ultimately closes this track?  Emotional and brilliant, both!

“The purpose of existence,” Moxam offers, “is to engage in some practice, to produce something.”  With this upcoming release,  Tim is not only ready to share something incredibly special, but is willing to introduce us all to a character “whose hands are never still, which betray a restless mind that never settles; someone that seeks precisions and quality with every pursuit, and who, above all else, demands nothing but the honest truth.”  If such a character piques your natural curiosity to learn more, then be sure to spend some time with “Marlborough Hall” on March 29th, and experience this personal journey for yourself.  Very recommended listening.

Visit Tim Moxam’s website.

Martin Noakes

The British guy that crossed the ocean and crash landed in central Pennsylvania (to quote Greg Keelor, “And I wonder what am I doing here?”). As the youngest of four siblings, exposure to music from a very early age nurtured my passion and appreciation for many musical genres. Continuing to discover some amazingly diverse and talented musicians based in Canada, I gravitate to live music experiences and remain devoted to spreading the word about such a vibrant music scene.

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