Track By Track: Bloom – Timothy James Bowen

Bloom
Image Courtesy of Timothy James Bowen

A couple of weeks ago Sydney based singer-songwriter Timothy James Bowen highly anticipated new EP Bloom. Bowen describes the EP as bookending everything that’s happened to him in the last year – much of which he spent fighting a type of blood cancer.

We asked Timothy James Bowen to take us through Bloom track by track.

1. “Magnolia Tree” – I wrote “Magnolia Tree” with my sister, Clare Bowen, in the middle of 2015. It was the first single off the Bloom EP. This song is a simple love song about marrying the one you love. We wrote it one night at Clare’s farm just outside of Nashville. I had been circling a melody for six months prior and hadn’t been able to find the right lyrics to go with the tune – all I knew was that I loved the melody. I played it for Clare and after one pass, she sat up, with eyes widening and excitedly said while running into the other room, “Keep playing! I think I have something for that!!!”. What she came back with after a bit of rummaging was a yellow post-it note with most of the chorus scribbled down in black ink. We went on to play it for the first time later that week to 5,500 people at the Grand Ole Opry.

2. “The Last Time” – I wrote this song with two friends of mine, Andrew Alberts and Stephanie Lambring, who are both exceedingly talented, Nashville based songwriters. We based this song on a cyclic relationship that too many people are familiar with – one that you know is bad for you, but for whatever reason, you keep circling back to that person again and again, regardless of the inevitable anguish that comes along with being with them. The main chorus tag “For the first time, it’s the last time…” is about the ultimate realisation and acknowledgement of the need to break the cycle in order to be free.

3. “Let’s Not Talk About Today” – This was one of the hardest songs I’ve ever had to write, purely because of its content. At the end of 2015, I was diagnosed with a type of blood cancer. Days before Christmas, I was given two weeks to live and urgently started an intense chemotherapy regime. I was one of the lucky ones, and the chemotherapy put my cancer into remission. This song begins at my quarterly specialist check up, when after progress scans, I was told that there was a 95% chance that my lymphoma had returned. I was going to need to have several operations and months more of intensive therapy in an effort to beat it. We left the hospital that day completely deflated. We went back to my family home to sit in front of the fire with my parents to try and digest the unimaginable. My Dad, forever the optimist, was trying to make what light he could of the situation and the only words that came to mind were “… Can we just not talk about today, please?”. From then on, the title and a few scattered diary entries stayed with me until I made my first trip back to Nashville in October of 2016 after being given the all clear for the second time. I finished the song over many cups of tea and through many tears with my sister, Clare, and her fiancé, Brandon Young. Writing this song has been the most cathartic experience I’ve ever had as a songwriter.

4. “The Greatest Love” – “The Greatest Love” is about the woman that literally saved my life, Christina Mullany. Before I even thought about going to see a doctor when I started to get sick, my guardian of a girlfriend, now fiancé Christina, saw all the red flags and raised the alarm well before anyone else could even think the thought. She brought me (and dragged me, in some cases) to the doctors office on multiple occasions to be checked out and she was there by my side through the entirety of this journey so far. Christina wrangled doctors when they needed wrangling, explained medical jargon to my family, stayed with me in hospital for a month when I began my treatment and was, quite simply, my greatest support during one of the most challenging experiences I’ve ever endured. I literally owe her my life and after 8 years of the most beautiful relationship I could ever imagine, to me, this truly is the greatest love I have ever witnessed.

5. “Hold My Heart” – I wrote “Hold My Heart” with my guitarist, Paul Mason. Paul is one of the most talented guitar players I have ever had the pleasure of meeting, let alone sharing a stage with. His knowledge and use of complex harmony and chord structures is what really brought this song to life. We wrote this song about his struggle of being able to find balance in his relationships and learning at what point you have to let your guard down and just go with it. People tend to put up so many walls when they get burnt that it can jeopardise any new relationships that might begin because of pretences set by those that are now long gone. This song is about acknowledging everything you’ve been through and realising that each beginning is a new one and should be treated just as that. This song also has the added bonus of being the only song I’ve ever written where both writers were wearing animal onesies at the time of creation. I was a puma. Paul was a tiger. We both had tails. It was a great day.

Bloom is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes here.

Timothy James Bowen will be joining Clare Bowen on her East Coast tour this July. Check out the full list of dates below:

Monday 3rd July – Her Majesty’s Theatre, Adelaide, SA
Tuesday 4th July – Hamer Hall, Melbourne, VIC
Wednesday 5th July – Canberra Theatre Centre, Canberra, ACT
Friday 7th July – Anita’s Theatre, Thirroul, NSW
Sunday 9th July – Enmore Theatre, Sydney, NSW
Monday 10th July – Civic Theatre, Newcastle, NSW
Tuesday 11th July – Blazes at Wests, Tamworth, NSW
Thursday 13th July – Empire Theatre, Toowoomba, QLD
Friday 14th July – The Star, Gold Coast, QLD
Saturday 15th July – Pilbeam Theatre, Rockhampton, QLD

The Best Folky Christmas Songs of 2014

Christmas

It’s Christmas Eve which means it’s time for Timber and Steel’s traditional wrap up of the best folky Christmas songs of the year. If you’re like us and you love Christmas song done well, then you’re in for a treat.

We hope you have a safe and merry Christmas wherever you find yourself this year. We look forward to folking with you in the New Year!

Robert Ellis – “Pretty Paper”
Americana fans were treated to a Christmas treat this year with the release of An Americana Christmas, a collection of classic and brand new holdiay tracks. We thought we’d feature the new tracks from Robert Ellis and Nikki Lane given their visits to Australia this year.

Nikki Lane – “FaLaLaLaLove Ya”

The Once – “The Light in Your Window”
Australian-bound Canadian trio The Once shared their ode to coming home for Christmas.

Scott Dean ft. Aubrey Lynn England – “We Three Kings”

Smoke Fairies – “Christmas Without A Kiss”

The Albion Christmas Band – “In The Bleak Midwinter”
The Albion Christmas Band are a Christmas institution for

The Lonely Wild – “Holidays”

Mark Kozelek – “Christmas Time Is Here”
The Sun Kil Moon frontman delivered a Christmas album, Sings Christmas Carols, this year with traditional and favourite Christmas songs including this Charlie Brown classic.

Paddy McHugh & The Goldminers – “The Old Men of The Railway Hotel”

Lindsay Phillips – “Come Home (It’s Christmas Time)”

Boat To Row – “My Darling Spark”

Clare Bowen – “Santa Baby”
I know that the American musical TV series Nasville is a guilty pleasure for many folk and country music lovers in Australia, especially as it features Australian actress/singer Clare Bowen. This is Bowen’s contribution to the Nasville cast Christmas album, Christmas With Nashville.

Jillette Johnson – “River”

Red Sky July – “Christmas Time”

Shir Soul – “Dreidel”
Because this time of year is not just about Christmas. Plus how good is a cappella music?

The National Parks – “It’s Christmas, and I Like You”

Sam Joole – “Christmas At The Zoo”
Sydney acoustic rock singer-songwriter Sam Joole covered The Flaming Lips’ “Christmas At The Zoo” for his holiday offering this year and we think you’re going to like it.

Zoë Wren – “Snow​-​white Lies”

Oxford & Co. – “Let It Snow”
I discovered Sydney nu-folk duo Oxford & Co. earlier this year and have been loving their stuff – including their version of “Let It Snow” for Christmas.

August York – “Warm Memories”

The Lost Brothers – “Little Angel”
The Lost Brothers were one of my favourite discoveries this year and I’m completely chuffed they decided to release a Christmas single so I could include it on this list. “Little Angel” is free to download with the suggestion of sending a donation to Unicef.

The Outside Track – “Get Me Through December”

Olivers Army – “All I Want For Christmas”

Todd Sibbin – “White Christmas”

Tom West – “Feliz Navidad”

Butcher Knives – “Auld Lang Syne”
What better way to finish off the year than with the classic “Auld Lang Syne”, complete with a gypsy punk twist of course.

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