1. Straw to Gold
2. Out of this world
3. The Saw & the Tree
4. Slow Mystery
5. Rearview Mirror
6. Only a Dream
7. Fall from Grace
8. Invisible
9. Snowbound
10. Great Return
11. Imaginary Kingdom
12. Forever Thursday
13. More Fool Me

I know it doesn't officially come out until next week but since it's available on Tim's MySpace it's not too soon for us to start having opinions!

Personally, I'll admit I was at first worried. The YouTube documentary had some clips of songs but nothing jumped out at me and I was concerned that the album might be flat and boring. I'm pleased to report that I was wrong. I think the album comes off just as Tim intended. It's warm and intimate and features some of his best song writing to date. This may not be a popular thought but I think this album easily surpasses Imaginary Kingdom and stands alongside Feeding the Gods as one of Tim's best.

I think it actually acts as a very nice counterpoint to Feeding the Gods. Both albums are very emotional, personal, and well executed. The difference is of course that while FtG is loud and aggressive The Conversation is quiet and soothing. But on both albums the strong melodies, lyrics, and lack of mediocre song craft (see "Show Yourself") combined with straightforward production makes them sound simultaneously fresh and timeless.

Bravo, Tim!

I think the best songs are "Straw to Gold", "Out of this World", "Fall From Grace", "Forever Thursday", and "Great Return".

Possibly weak tracks (though I need more time to digest them) may be: "Rearview Mirror" and "Imaginary Kingdom".

I haven't heard "Invisible" yet so this review is 8% incomplete.
Original Post
Just got it today - so on first listenings....

More Fool Me, Invisible and Out of This World are great. I love the laid back feel of this album and Tim's voice is really sounding great.

Fall From Grace and Straw to Gold are currently really growing on me too!!

I'm really impressed with this album. I love that he's put it on his myspace. Onya Timmy!
Tim sounds like he is at his best and happiest.
Well done.
I've been listening to the stream on Tim's myspace site.

My first reaction is *relief*. I hated Imaginary Kingdom. I thought the arrangements were overwraught, and that Tim struggled, vocally, to compete with the overwraught arrangements. IK almost made me swear off Tim. For sure it made me swear off buying anything from him without hearing it first.

The Conversation is a joy. Simple, quiet arrangements that let the beauty of the songs shine through. And Tim's voice sounds great, without having to compete with all the instrumentation. He's not struggling to reach notes he can no longer reach.

I haven't listened to it enough yet to be able to comment on individual songs, but for sure my overall initial reaction is that this is a beautiful album. Sonically pleasing to me in every way.
Underwhelmed. Straw to Gold is the only song that grabbed me on the first listen and that was because the first melodic line is Eight Miles High by the Byrds. I found this album very much in the comfort zone and consequently was bored by it.
I also thought of "Eight Miles High" when I first heard "Straw to Gold".

I still think the album is a fine piece of work and much better than Imaginary Kingdom. I think these songs and arrangements are perfectly suited to Tim's voice. The album reminds me of Bic Runga's album Birds which was also done with mostly live takes and acoustic instrumentation.

I also need to take back what I said about "Rearview Mirror" in my first post. I actually think it's one of the best songs on the album now.
First thought listening to this was "Where the heck did this come from?". It's the anti-Imaginary Kingdom.

I think what I like about this album is that it has dignity Smiler

"More Fool Me", I'd heard on Rare 4 last year, and the subject matter of that song was pretty obvious.

"Fall From Grace" is a raw raw song. It's very bare and honest. It's sad. One of the best things I've heard Tim do for a long time.
Iarla wrote:
quote:
I think what I like about this album is that it has dignity

Thank you Iarla Smiler You have just summed this up perfectly.

You don't necessarily have to like a thing, or be immediately grabbed by a thing, to still be able to recognise the depth and quality of that thing. Smiler

I have to admit I was feeling really shirty when I first heard the album on his Myspace page - I'm now thinking that my initial opinion was more a reflection of coming down with something, than how I really feel about the album.
I finally got to hear "Invisible" and it has only increased my opinion of the album. It's totally one of the standout tracks and it's a shame that it's not up on his MySpace for the world to hear.

Unlike Iarla, I had no idea what Tim was getting at with the Rare IV demo of "More Fool Me". I can hardly believe it's the same song as the one on The Conversation. It's grown up so nicely and has much better lyrics and melodies and the intent of the lyrics is much more obvious.
I had to phone around Perth to find a copy on Saturday.

I only found one store in the state that had a copy (Mills records in Fremantle).

After getting "that" copy i took a listen and at this stage i'm not 100% sold on every song BUT i am going to say that there are some of Tim's best songs on this Album.

The Saw & the Tree
More Fool Me

are FANTASTIC.

I hope to write a song like these one day...
I'm part way through my third listen through, and still in that ecstatic moment of recognizing an artist completely in his element. Camus called it a "comfort zone", but that's precisely why I love it. I haven't heard Tim in this place in years: the sad acceptance in "Fall From Grace", the simple joy of "Forever Thursday", the little signature melodic turns and bitter-sweet lines throughout which take it, in my opinion, way beyond just a minor folksy outing.

It might also help that Roxanne is here too listening with me. Smiler
I went to JB Hifi in Elizabeth Street at lunchtime yesterday and was disappointed not to find any copies of the Conversation.

I went and asked one of the guys who said they ordered stock, and it should have been there by Saturday, but no sign of it.

He then said that the Bourke Street store have 25 copies. Big Grin

I hot-footed it up there, and when I got there there were 3 copies on the stand. I grabbed one, and waited in an extremely long line to pay for it. I am assuming that they couldn't accommodate any more copies than that.

I won't get to listen until after Tim's show, but despite everything I've said, I'm really looking forward to hearing the albm proper for the first time. Big Grin
Pitt St JB HiFi didn't have any copies on Saturday but found one on Sunday at the TGV store. I only got home yesterday from my trip so haven't yet had a listen... my hubby goes away tonight so I plan to do some serious ear bashing for the next week Big Grin
This is the first album in a long time that I will put on and listen to in its entirety. I usually listen, decide which are my favourite songs, then head straight for them every time.

Not this time though. Big Grin

My first listen to this album really was just so misleading. I didn't like it, and couldn't get a feel for it.

I now love it. I don't know whether its because I've now heard the songs live, or whether I'm just in a better frame of mind (sure that's a large part of it Razzer) but it doesn't really matter.

I certainly have my favourite songs on the album, and my not so favourite, however I still feel the need to listen to it in its entirety.

It is kind of like a conversation; if you only take in bits and pieces of it, you miss the point. Smiler
After living with the album for over a week now I can say that I still love it. I think "Invisible" is turning out to be one of my favorite songs. It's really beautiful and classic sounding.

Songs I don't like quite as much as I did a week ago are "Imaginary Kingdom" and "Great Return".

"The Saw and the Tree", "Out of This World", and "Rearview" have all grown on me immensely and "Out of this World" is still great too.
SmilerI thought I would provide an early review of The Conversation. I admit to being a little disappointed with IK. There were some great tracks (STTS,CBD,WL)but a couple of clangers (Horizon - poor lyrics, Show Yourself). Tragically I think Unsinkable was masterful but left unfinished. The production was very conventional which was in stark contrast to the magnificent album that is Feeding the Gods and the transitional album Say It Is So.

With The Conversation the maverick is back and that is good news. Tim succeeds in a couple of his major aims here - the album is sonically interesting(the interplay between Brett's guitar and the violin a highlight)and there is a palpable conversation musically between the players. There is some truly beautiful musical passages - some of this is about arrangements, player skill and that mystery that is groove. Chamber pop is a good description, free of the artifice of tricky production (except for double tracking Tim's vocals a bit which works)however in this type of environment anything that is crappy will show up in a stark way.

Thus the real strength of this album, as Eddie notes in the documentary, is the sheer quality of the songs. On the first playing this album can sound like it is all the same (as Camus indicated)and underwhelming but further listenings find some gems, in fact many gems. It may be Tim's most consistent batch of songs.

I have liked to some extent nearly all things by the Brothers Finn but I am not without a critical vein. In recent times I found IK slightly disappointing as noted above, thought Time on Earth was very good but only occassionally exciting when it pursued new sounds (e.g. Transit Lounge, Your the One) and liked the songs on EIH but found the production inhibiting and untimately bad for the songs.

The Conversation is courageous but takes repeated listens to reveal itself.

Straw to Gold - yes the opening sequence is similar to Eight Miles High but this a really strong opening song with the lyrical theme about the redemption of love somehow undercut by the, at times, threatening music. Great ending with the violin and guitar solo.

Out of this World - another love song to Marie but much more straitforward than the above. Its a very pretty song and a strong vocal. No idea why it is the single - for me it is one of the less interesting songs.

The Saw & The Tree - Excellent. Great lyric and saw solo. Folky, dark with a beautiful chorus.

Slow Mystery - I loved this from the start! The languid rythmn, echoed hand drum and the vocal harmonies are masterful. Quite different to other tracks in style. My only inponderable is the middle eight. I think I like it but is it too understated vocally? (or is that the point!)

Rearview Mirror - Another I loved from the start
Great chorus and a lyric that manages to weave together notions of love, loss and music around the central metaphor of that which is past (as in rear vision). His lyrics are very complete on this album with some suprising twists.

Only A Dream - Hardest song for me to judge. It is lightweight compared to the rest of the album but I think this is both necesary and intentional, given the more heavy duty lyrics in front of and behind it.Playful rythmn and nice whistling

Fall From Grace - Raw, tough and revealing. Its a very good, perhaps even great song. The stripped back ensemble playing suits it. Have I commented on Eddies playing yet? He adds beautiful shadings to many of these track and this one is no exception.

Invisible - Took me a while to warm to this one. Great lyric and some tremendous instrumental work make this a highlight.

Snowbound - Took me even longer to warm to this one.Ha ha like that - warm to Snowbound!! Now it is possibly my favourite. Tim bursts right into this song and it is a bit unsettling at first. The chorus is great and it has the most magical middle eight that emerges from a beautiful musical passage. Brilliant.

Great Return - Very Irish ballad this one. Another love song to Marie I suspect. Took a while to grow on me but now I really like it.

Imaginary Kingdom - Loved this from the start. It is slightly different to other songs on the album in structure and the third person lyrical context. Really good vocals and middle eight.

Forever Thursday - A nice love song with the only drum kit on the album. A solid pop song and some nice relief after some of the heavier themes that precede it.

More Fool Me - Brilliant but painfully so. Perhaps after all the songs about Judd (Charlie, I Hope I Never, Dead Flowers etc) this one might drop the blinds. Excellent use of lyrics from 129 and fantastic ensemble playing. Whatever caused the breakdown in their relationship it appears pretty terminal in this song. There is anger and sorrow rendered in both words and music here.

So I really like The Conversation and I don't think I have really taken it all in yet. As my partner said the other night 'that music is beautiful' That may well be the secret of this album.
Great review Titus, and welcome. Big Grin

I very much enjoyed reading your review.

From what you read, and hear Tim say, they're possibly all love songs to Marie (except More Fool Me Wink) Big Grin

Kind of makes you hope that the love grows and deepens, then we get the benefit in beautiful music. Big Grin

An album like this provides the perfect backdrop to our lives really. Cool
Thanks Texas Rose. I think its really difficult to write celebratory songs about love and growth as there is a tendency for them to sound corny or one dimensional. I remember reading an interview with Michael Stipe and him discussing how difficult it was to write Shiny Happy People.

I think Tim has succeeded on this album in writing some great mature love songs that are complex sometimes (Straw to Gold) and quite simple at other times (Out of this World, Forever Thursday). He has in the past I think written some that are not successful - I don't really like Horizon because I think the lyric doesnt work.

Having said that one of Tim's strongest virtues is that he takes risks. This means he can and does fail at times but it also allows the possibility of writing songs in new and interesting ways. I think on The Conversation he has achieved the latter.

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