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T i m... E r i k s e n

anne hills

Tim Eriksen
Soul of the January Hills



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Among the world’s finest folk practitioners” – Toronto Star

Startling conviction . . . absurdly good.” – Mojo

One of the best singers in music.” – T Bone Burnett

track listing

1. As I Travel itunesbuy
2. Queen Jane itunesbuy
3. Son of God itunesbuy
4. The Gallows Tree itunesbuy
5. Drowsy Sleeper itunesbuy
6. John Randolph itunesbuy
7. Two Babes itunesbuy
8. Lass of Glenshee itunesbuy
9. Amazing Grace itunesbuy
10. A Soldier Traveling from the North itunesbuy
11. Hope itunesbuy
12. I Wish the Wars Were All Over itunesbuy
13. Wrestling Jacob itunesbuy
14. Better Days Coming itunesbuy


Fearless singer-songwriter-multi-instrumentalist Tim Eriksen follows yet another adventurous path on his new Soul of the January Hills CD, stripping the arrangements down to his own solo voice on 14 songs recorded in a single take. For more than 20 years Eriksen has chosen to explore musical roads less traveled, yet they’ve led him everywhere from CBGB to the Academy Awards, from live performances broadcast in the US, Poland, England and beyond, and into the high esteem of record producers, fellow musicians, critics and an international audience. A master of various traditional American and world musics, Tim has attracted high profile fans and occasional collaborators including record producers T Bone Burnett, Joe Boyd and Steve Albini, actor/director Billy Bob Thornton, Cuban jazz pianist Omar Sosa (whose recent collaboration with Eriksen, Across the Divide, was nominated for two Grammy awards), South Indian instrumental virtuoso K.S. Subramanian, legendary British singer-guitarist Martin Carthy and American bluegrass banjo master Tony Trischka.

Co-founder and front-man of the “folk noise” band Cordelia’s Dad, which recorded eight albums (including 1998’s Spine for Appleseed) and earned a strong following in the US and overseas, Eriksen is also known as a leader in the American “shape note” or “Sacred Harp” tradition. His expertise was put to use by the acclaimed music producer T Bone Burnett (O Brother, Where Art Thou; Crazy Heart; Down from the Mountain), who drafted Tim into traveling to Romania to coach actors and extras in two “shape note” songs used in the Oscar-nominated soundtrack of the 2003 film, Cold Mountain, in which Tim also overdubbed actor Brendan Gleeson’s singing voice. Tim subsequently traveled the country with Ralph Stanley, Alison Krauss & Union Station, Jerry Douglas and other traditional musicians as part of the 2004 Great High Mountain Tour.

Eriksen is an accomplished instrumentalist on guitar, banjo, and fiddle, as he displayed on his two previous solo albums on Appleseed (Tim Eriksen, 2001, and Every Sound Below, 2004), which were both recorded live in the studio with no sidemen, overdubs, or edits, but his new Soul of the January Hills CD takes this solo approach one brave step farther. Inspired by his location – the 2008 Jaroslaw Festival in southeastern Poland, where he taught a week-long Sacred Harp school climaxed by an unamplified solo concert broadcast by Poland’s national radio from a candlelit Baroque church – and the magic of his surroundings, Eriksen took a digital recorder into a tower on a wall surrounding Jaroslaw’s Benedictine Abbey, sang 14 traditional American songs in one take with no accompaniment at all, and walked out about an hour later with the January Hills recordings.

The CD encompasses a new arrangement of the familiar “Amazing Grace,” as well as several other hymns (“Son of God,” “Wrestling Jacob”), dark accounts of incest and murder (“Queen Jane,” “Two Babes”), the pleasures and pain of love (“Lass of Glenshee,” “A Soldier Traveling from the North,” and “John Randolph,” probably the oldest song here, dating back to the 15th Century), and even optimism in harsh times (“Hope,” “Better Days Coming”). Perhaps most timeless and, sadly, most relevant is Tim’s a cappella rendition of “I Wish the Wars Were All Over,” an original based on an 18th Century ballad.

With these 14 songs for voice alone, says Eriksen, “I’m throwing down the gauntlet. Not really. I’m not looking for a battle, but it would be nice if this record was taken as a friendly challenge to get people into hardcore singing, especially the old ballads and hymns and stuff.” Eschewing instrumental accompaniment is a courageous move for a musician ripe for an easy-to-swallow Americana cash-in record with big-name sidemen and easygoing material, but the stark intensity of Eriksen’s passionate, unvarnished baritone voice reflects his conviction that unamplified, unaccompanied ballad singing “can be incredibly beautiful, powerful stuff.”


other releases:
Tim Eriksen (solo)

Every Sound Below
also appears on:

Spine: Cordelia's Dad
where have all the flowers gone
The Songs of Pete Seeger Vol 1
Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

sowing the seeds

Sowing the Seeds - The 10th Anniversary

Warner Collections

Her Bright Smile Haunts Me Still: Warner Collection Volume 1

nothing seems better

Nothing Seems Better to Me: Warner Collection Volume 2