Tim Courtney is a man for whom free time is clearly not an option. When he’s not creating music with Katerwaul and Los Pelicans or directing and producing and scoring movies with Factotum Films, he’s recording music as a solo artist. But is this solo material any good? Will it stand up to scrutiny? And now that it’s recorded, will Tim finally be allowed a five minute rest before beginning his next project?
The answer to those questions, the first two at least, is yes. Yet, Still We Try In Vein is a beautifully crafted EP; moving and tender in all the right ways, it’s a beautiful example of how understatement can win out against the flamboyance of the world of pop and rock music. Building upon previous releases, Tim has expanded his soundset to include sparse, atmospheric percussion and a warm bassline amongst his signature acoustic guitars and cinematic strings.
Yet, Still We Try In Vein is a characteristically heartfelt affair. Throughout, the singer-songwriter’s vocals are fragile and tender, containing far more emotion than is surely possible for him to have collected in his thirty years on this earth. This is personified by evocative opener Queens Park Save My Life; building from a quiet string-led introduction to a stirring conclusion, it’s a fantastic introduction to Tim’s music. The upbeat indie-skiffle of Twenty Nine comes as a little bit of a shock following the sprawling opening track, but it’s no less welcome.
Moving onwards, there’s something gloriously Gilmour-esque about the understated electric guitar solo that steals its way into the tail end of ballad Cradle Me In Your Arms. As the song fades into nothingness, the repeated refrain of ‘cradle me’ is enough to send shivers down the spine, before Thirty and You Were Everything carry the EP towards its finale, each as powerful as the song that precedes it.
As the EP closes with the passion-fuelled The Initials You Carved, Tim laments the final line: ‘I don’t wanna let you go, but the world is always moving too slow’. And you really feel he means it.
There’s something bittersweet about Yet, Still We Try In Vein: it is both hauntingly beautiful and beautifully haunting in equal measure; it is music to listen to as the light fades from the sky and darkness takes hold of the world around us; it is the hopes and fears of a thousand lives. And it is quite wonderful.
Yet, Still We Try In Vein by Tim Courtney is out on 2nd September via Pessimist Records.