You may be more familiar with Timothy William “TW” Walsh than you realize. You see, Walsh is a man who wears many hats: singer, songwriter, mix master, producer, and multi-instrumentalist. We’ve heard his work with David Bazan as the only other official member of Pedro the Lion, on Bazan’s project Headphones, in Walsh’s former band The Soft Drugs, and in his own solo releases. But he’s not willing to stop there; he has worked in production with indie mainstays Sufjan Stevens, Rocky Votolato, and Ra Ra Riot, just to name a tiny percentage.
Walsh hasn’t released a solo album since 2001’s Blue Laws, but Songs of Pain and Leisure makes it evident that it’s been time well spent; this album is near-perfection. Listeners can expect an album that is always indie, often bluesy, sometimes funky, and filled to the brim with emotion. The album title doesn’t lie; the tracks on Songs of Pain and Leisure are just that. Each song comes with incredibly insightful lyricism, and one of the best features of the album is that no two songs sound alike–but at the same time, they all perfectly complement one another. Oh, and did I mention that he does all the vocals and instrumentals?
Album opener “Make It Rhyme” kicks it off with some steady rock, seamlessly fusing guitar lines with an organ backdrop. “Build Me A Ballpark” shines with a strong bass line, steady percussion, and a funky intro. Similarly, the intro to “Plant a Garden” also brings the funk, leading up to some blues-tinged indie-rock with passionate vocals. Some of the emotion on this album is evident in lyrics like “You can give a man a conscience, just don’t make him live alone.” For more bluesy tracks, see “Capital Gains” and “Pawn Shop Guns,” which is complete with great guitar lines spiced up by a tambourine and changing tempo.
Album closer “Struggle and Strife” is breathtakingly beautiful and devastating, using the bare minimum in terms of vocals and instrumentals to evoke the desired emotion in the listener. This acoustic track utilizes the absolute lightest guitar accompaniment that takes care to not tread on the strained beauty of the vocals. This song is the slowest on the album, and showcases the emotions of longing, desperation, and feeling lost. For more tracks that are slowed down a bit, see also “Rattling Jar” and “The Modern Age.”
Because of the instrumentals, lyrics, and tempo, “My Little Brother” is easily my favorite track. The raw emotion is so evident in this dark ode, especially in lines like “He can make a mother guilty and a murderer proud / And I tried, tried to save his life.” Another interesting track is “Natural Causes.” With its steadily quick-paced guitar line, Walsh’s slow and light vocals create a striking contrast that makes this one of the best tracks on Songs of Pain and Leisure.
The album dropped on October 11th, and is a must-have for any indie-rock or indie-folk lover.