The ten songs are held together by a tone of sad charm, sung slowly, produced cleanly, sung in a story-telling way. Harmonica accompanies most of the songs, creating a fusion of feeling blending Springeteen's Nebraska with the 'she done me wrong' stance of George Jones, but with the literate humor Otto requires of himself.
The stories? To be a fair listener, you have to know a story-sketch of Otto's own history...he did hit the big time ...almost, recording his songs with Norman Petty, Buddy Holly's famous producer in Clovis, New Mexico. The young man Tim Otto was discovered by Petty just before his sudden death. Otto isn't being grandiose in his sadness, good to remember since tragedy is often reserved for the famous.
Fresh Faced Kid sets the CD's plaintive tone, a plaintiff in the court of The Blues, recalling the potential that kids are so rich in.
All The Sorrows Of The World is a compassion song that makes me think of the way children are sad when crying, revisiting all other sad things and aware of the world full of endless sadness. This great and overwhelming sadness, though not cheering you up it...keeps you company.
She Could Break Horses is Otto at his best in creating a lyrical and musical syncopation. Starting with a clip-clop rhythm, the words and music tell the story of 'She.'
She Got The Best Of Me has such a good hook, "Old memories left me nothin' but alone" - it tips the listener off to the cathartic hopes of this collection - by sharing the old memories, Otto is telling stories, implying a listener, inviting the listener into his world, recasting aloneness into shared human sadness. This song is a classic, with a line that cracks me up..."You don't have to be a Genius to see she got the best of me" that sort of pokes country music's 'she-villain' genre in the ribs.
A Sadness In Your Soul is my favorite song in this collection. It's beautiful melody, longing, looking back and forward at once with equal nostalgia for something lost, not to be found. It's got a clean, pretty sound, honest, and in a culture that teaches us to take anti-depressants...that something is wrong with sadness...it's very sweet to be told, "I loved your sadness best and miss it most."
2-Guys...if I'm not mistaken, "Folkie" is the term folk musicians used for themselves in the 70s and early 80s before Folk Music disappeared from pop culture. "Folk" implies plebeian folk, you know - 'folks', the common people. If you weren't around back then, you may never have known a time when genuine commonness was sung about from the heart and was the center of popular youth culture.
Coca-cola Dave slowly rocks, slowly rolls back in unapologetic memories of sunshine and good times and sort of underscores this kind of songwriting.
I Travel Light, Travel Fast is not meant to convince the listener that he's better off alone, and after all - he's not alone, he's hanging out with all the musicians he's learned from, who he gives tribute to the way a Baseball Fan is not alone when talking about Babe Ruth or Lou Gehrig.
Old Lefty tells a true story Otto learned about while living in New Mexico and shows off his gift for language, of stringing words together in a way that was strong before the days of e-mail.
Really, it's not so much that Tim Otto asks for in The Storyteller, someone to share by listening to the longing for past sadness still set in the days of future unfurled potential, hanging out with a girl who might surprise you and stay true.
By Melanie Eddy Robinson February, 2005 Disc Jockey
Check out the artist's website:
1. Fresh Faced Kid
2. All The Sorrows Of The World
3. She Could Break Horses
4. Just Like Tom Joad
5. She Got The Best Of Me
6. A Sadness In Your Soul
7. 2-Guys You've Never Heard Of
8. Coca-cola Dave
9. I Travel Light, Travel Fast
10. Whatever Happened To Old Lefty