One of the first things I do after breaking the seal on a new record is read the credits.
And I read those credits with the same degree of enthusiasm hardcore sports fans display when they read team and individual player stats.
I look at the song credits to see if the material is original or sourced from other songwriters.
I look to see if the producer is someone I’m familiar with.
I look to see where the record was recorded — whether it’s an established studio utilized by artists whose past work I admire or a studio just starting to generate attention.
But more than anything I look to see who played on the record, whether everything was done in-house or if they brought in high- profile session players to fill in the blanks or add some extra muscle to the record.
Why do I this?
Because what I learn from the credits often points me in the direction of somebody I should be watching for.
A case in point is Tinlin.
In the fall, I reviewed Paul Carrack’s latest offering, Good Feeling. That album introduced me to Alex and Rolf Tinlin, two brothers who between them play a host of different instruments. Their work on the record impressed me. So did the fact that Carrack chose to cover one of their songs.
I mentioned their names in the review. A few weeks later I received an email from Alex Tinlin who’d read the review in England. He told me they had a new record of their own and asked if I would be interested in hearing it.
Little more than a week or so later that record, Shade of the Shadows, showed up in my mail slot.
I’ve played it probably a dozen times since then.
Shade of the Shadows is an utterly charming record.
I don’t know what I expected their record to sound like, a little more like the Carrack record I first heard them play on perhaps.
What I heard instead was essentially a contemporary folk/rock record — and a good contemporary folk/rock record.
The music of the brothers Tinlin, who record and perform simply as Tinlin — with Carrack’s son Jake on drums — marries choice elements of folk, pop, rock and classical music.
Intelligent lyrics, complex melodies, clever time changes, close vocal harmonies, high production values, all of the things I like are here.
Do they sound like anyone you might know? Its hard to say.
Try to imagine a musical marriage of Simon & Garfunkel, Fairport Convention, Randy Newman, and John Martyn, with a dash of Gentle Giant.
The music on Shade of the Shadows is primarily acoustic, mostly guitar, mandolin and percussion, with occasional cello, some oboe and a little electric piano.
The material is interesting, it’s artfully constructed and beautifully produced.
Stellar musicianship and solid vocal work throughout.
If you’re looking for an adrenaline rush you won’t find it on this record. But if you’re looking for something that will help you pass a quiet winter afternoon with a nice glass of wine this set will work for you.
Would I like to see them live? Oh yeah. I expect it would be an evening well spent.
Choice cuts on this set include Steal, After The Rain, Do I Deny, Don’t Want To Sleep Alone and Shadow Of A Man.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.
Doug Gallant, a reporter with The Guardian, writes his music review column for The Guardian every week. He welcomes comments from readers at email@example.com or 629-6000, ext. 6057.