Singer-songwriter Jeff Timm creates a strong impression with his debut album Blink of An Eye, which is full of catchy pop songs that illuminate simple and stirring stories about familiar themes, including the passage of time, love, loss and renewal. These songs stay with you long after you have given them a first listen.
The title track (listen below) is haunting and deeply moving. It creates a very pensive environment for my nostalgic thoughts. In it, Timm asks the profound questions that often accompany grief, about “what it’s all about.”
He ponders a woman who has departed and sings:
The moon is up, the sun has gone down
It’s cold outside and barren all around
And all the years, they rush by so fast
The birthdays and kids, how long will it last?
In the blink of an eye, she’s already gone
Timm maturely handles the emotional surprise triggered by reflections about all that is lost when a loved one dies. For those of us of a certain age, it also more generally resonates for the loss that follows the passage of time and experiences gone. It is a delicate tune with a powerful, emotive resonance and, I believe, the strongest song on the album.
“This is the only song on this album from back in the day — 2004,” Timm said. “After a good friend’s wife unexpectedly died, I was moved to capture the emotion which comes with sudden loss.”
Timm is surrounded by a talented group of musicians on the album, which he started to record before the pandemic and finished in 2021. His lyrics find expression in the gorgeous guitar of James Mastro (The Bongos, Ian Hunter’s Rant Band), the bass of Larry Heinemann (Blue Man Group, Karyn Kuhl Band) and the ethereal backing vocals of Renée LoBue (Elk City, Flowers of America).
There is also a mystery drummer on the album. Despite my best efforts, no one would reveal who it is, so I’m guessing Ringo Starr.
In “Rain Falls Down,” Timm captures a moment of domestic bliss when there is nothing more satisfying than sitting with the person you love and your pet, watching the weather. It’s upbeat, simple and sounds sunny, though it’s a song about rain.
He said he was sitting with his partner Alison Javens on their front porch “with our dog Buddy like we usually do when it’s a good storm. We sit on our rockers and listen to the rain fall down.”
Timm reminds us to “take it in stride” and not let the weather become something requiring “your boots and your hat.” There is a lesson of acceptance there.
He reveals his sense of humor in the sarcastic and bouncy “I’m Sorry.” Timm said the song was inspired by hearing kids say “I’m sorry” constantly, adding that “it evolved into a fictional but fun song. I guess you could say it’s a bit satirical. Lyrically, this one had some fun twists and turns. I was even surprised how this ended up.”
The song ends up with a halfhearted apology for his desire to live a “life of ease with no one to please, not a girlfriend or a wife.”
Timm wrote the poignant “Reminiscing” shortly after Javens lost a good friend. “She was trying to make sense of it all, talking about the times they shared together,” he said. “I was working on this riff before I knew the story. It all came together as ‘Reminiscing.’ ”
In the song, he sings about the good old days: “Every now and again, loves come over me/Every now and again, you’re just a memory … you got me reminiscing.”
“Jeff Timm’s music reminds me of Polaroid photos,” said Mastro. “Each song is a snapshot that develops depth, shifting from black and white into color, right before your eyes and ears in the course of two to three minutes. Jeff’s stories and scenarios feel familiar, and put you in the middle of these Polaroids, arms around the other characters, singing right into the camera.”
“The sincerity of Jeff’s voice invites the listener in. Once there, his lyrics demand attention,” said LoBue. She described his songs as “sunny melodies that haunt you until you listen again.”
“Jeff has a gift for turning everyday observations into simple pop songs,” said Ketchem. “His songs are never over-written. He tells the story, lands the hook and gets out.
“That can be difficult to do, but Jeff does it effortlessly. His voice has a charm that reminds me of Freedy Johnston.”
Ketchem (Elk City, Guided by Voices, Luna) served as the album’s music producer, with Alison Javens as the executive producer. During the pandemic, Ketchem has faced his share of postponements, but kept Magic Door active by recording a crop of artists, including singer-songwriter Greg Amici and Mastro. He also has been working with Guided by Voices, “recording all the drums on numerous albums,” he said, adding that “because live performances have been so difficult, many artists are using this time to build a body of recorded work for releases. My unattended mixing work has also been busier than ever: Artists who record at home, who need studio mixing to finish.”
Timm also works in advertising sales and enjoys the outdoors. “Besides playing the guitar with Alison and dancing in her living room, I love hiking in the Catskills with Alison and Buddy, our 3-year-old Labradoodle,” he said.
Playing music since he was a youngster, Timm started out on drums. “I played drums for several years until I heard The Rolling Stones’ Hot Rocks album. That was my ‘aha!’ moment. I put the sticks down and started to play guitar,” he said. “I needed to sing, play and perform music. I played in a couple of cover bands throughout the years and really discovered my passion for songwriting in the early 2000s.”
In 2020 he released a fiery EP with three rock songs — “Something’s Wrong,” “Uncle Sam” and “Song for George Floyd” (listen below) — that reflected his angst about the year’s events, including police violence and racism. You can hear those songs at jefftimm.bandcamp.com/album/songs-for-change.
A Poughkeepsie native who recently moved to Montclair, Timm says he has been embraced by the town’s creative community. “I was working and living in midtown Manhattan when I met my girlfriend back about six years ago. She convinced me to move to Montclair and boy, I’m glad I did.
“It wasn’t too long before we met Ray at Magic Door Recording, who literally opened the door to the incredibly talented musicians who helped bring these songs to life. Needless to say, it’s been a really fun and exciting journey.”
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