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AMATO’S GOTTA GO
It just doesn't add up. (11/21a)
TIM & FAITH AND TAYLOR, OH MY
The supercouple are due to debut with... (11/20a)
RELEASE-DATE SHUFFLE
UMG has been doing some heavy lifting. (11/21a)
PRESSING PLAY ON THE GRAMMY PREDICTIONS
We've got your playlists; listen and place your bets. (11/21a)
GRAMMY SHOCKERS
You just wait.
PIZZA IN THE DIGITAL ERA
When will it come through my phone?
EMINEM
Stop asking us about the goddamn release date.
WE'RE ON TWITTER
You follow?
Critics' Choice
TYMINSKI'S AMERICAN GOTHIC
8/18/17

By Simon Glickman

The audience assembled at The Village on 8/17 had been invited to “An Exclusive Music Experience of Southern Gothic.” What we got, when we first put on our wireless headphones, was a bewildering array of random video on giant screens. The clips toggled restlessly between the real horrors of our time and the trivialities intended to distract us from them. Then all the screens settled into a cinematic landscape, somewhere in a possibly mythical American South, and the music began.

That music, from the now wildly buzzing album Southern Gothic by Mercury Nashville’s Tyminski (due 10/20) is not simple to describe. Its creator, Dan Tyminski, is best known as the singing voice of George Clooney in O Brother, Where Art Thou, a longtime member of Alison Krauss and Union Station and the vocalist on Avicii’s smash “Hey Brother.”

Here he steps way out of his musical comfort zone with 13 songs (five of which were previewed at the event) about sin and salvation, love, loss, faith, redemption and pain. What does it sound like? A sort of pulsing electro-bluegrass, at times. Boozy, smoky, secular gospel at others. Elsewhere, country-rock with a doomy, Nick Cave-ish air, not to mention swampy blues, nocturnal pop, Appalachian EDM, hip-hop/folk and other unexpected concoctions that color way outside the lines of the current country mainstream. The beats are big. Tyminski’s expressive, soulful vocals are the through line.

(In a Q&A session afterward, Tyminski credited the unbidden Avicii project as having given him the courage to follow new musical directions.)

What matters is that the songs—co-crafted by Tyminski and a raft of great co-writers, and shepherded by canny producer Jesse Frasure—are superb, and also that the label doesn’t give a shit about trying to make it fit in some format pigeonhole. UMG Nashville President Cindy Mabe, who hosted the event and was visibly glowing with pride, knows this is a powerful, unique work of art. The lush, ambitious visuals accompanying the music and the elaborate trappings of the party itself underscored that the company is investing considerable resources in this decidedly offbeat project.

I happen to believe a number of these songs would blow up on Country radio from spin one, but however listeners discover Gothic, I expect they’ll have a hard time putting it down.

It’s hard to pick a favorite among these gems, but the standouts of my last few listens are the thumping, banjo-laced “Breathing Fire,” the questing, anthemic “Gone,” the visceral “Perfect Poison,” the impassioned “Hollow Hallelujah,” the lovely and rousing “Good for Your Soul” and the searing “Bloodline.” In truth, I don’t think there’s a bum track here, and the set’s stormy themes speak to these desperate times—sometimes with reassurance, sometimes with despair, but always with honesty.

Will Southern Gothic go on to commercial glory, connecting like great, authentic albums deserve to? Will Tyminski and team scoop up an armload of Grammys and give other musical experimentalists the courage to burn genre restrictions to the ground like a rotten old barn? I’ve got no clue. I only know that this record scratches an itch I didn’t know I had. I’m glad it found its way to the light.