Tim Finn – Before and After (1993)

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The finest of the tracks here point to a musical sensibility that’s a touch too ribald for Crowded House.

Tim Finn, who had recently left after a short association with brother Neil’s band, experiments with a number of far-out sounds: A processed background vocal on “Can’t Do Both”; the fuzzy bassline, and crazy keyboard counterpoint, on “I Found It”; a spoken lyric on “Always Never Now.” Every track stands as its own statement, perhaps because each has a different producer or combination of producers.

Yet, as with Tim’s spirited collaboration with Neil on Crowded House’s “Woodface” in 1991, it still somehow ends up being perfect pop music.

Note the bouncy “Persuasion” which was originally an instrumental written by Richard Thompson for the soundtrack to a film called “The Sweet Keeper.” Even the minor-key “Protected” somehow shimmers with light.

Song structures act as both buttress and a kind of cajoling friend throughout — notably on “In Your Sway,” which features such brilliant, stuttering, almost heckling piano work by Dror Erez. He’s like the big-mouth fan who pushes a batter to hit past the warning track.

Pleasingly limpid vocal arrangements bolster that tune, as well as “Many’s the Time (In Dublin),” co-written and recorded with members of Hothouse Flowers.

Then there are three songs co-written with his younger sibling during the sessions for “Woodface.” While not the heart of “Before and After,” they are nevertheless pivotal to the theme. This album is an apt summary of Tim’s songcraft, incorporating elements from both before (as a solo artist and as a founder of Split Endz) and after his time in Crowded House.

Tim Finn, as the cover of this record indicates, emerged largely unchanged after his time in a big-time band. That is to say: Tim, as he so often did, unsettles Neil.

Where the tunes on that most recent Crowded House release were almost relentlessly joyful, “Before and After” finds the brothers in the mood to scuff things up.

In that way, this one is the better album.

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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