CD Review: Tim Kirker “Shallow End of a Deep River”

It was in the city of Cleveland, Ohio that Tim Kirker got his start as a musician. Among other things, Kirker shared the stage with lead Nine Inch Nails member Trent Reznor. Reznor and Kirker were part of the same group called Slam Bamboo who had a Top 40 hit song in the Cleveland area called “House on Fire”. Reznor would later go on with NIN and Kirker would go in his own direction, forming other bands.

Years later, the now New York-based Tim Kirker has returned to music after taking some time off and has since released two solo albums after returning to music with the help of several friends from his musical past. After releasing his first solo album of Like Distant Sounds in 2003, Kirker would take some time off. Having returned last year with Worms for Early Birds, his newest album in over a decade, Kirker returned once again in 2015 with yet another new release. This new album is entitled Shallow End of a Deep River.

Shallow End of a Deep River finds Tim Kirker reuniting with percussionist (and former Damn Yankees drummer) Michael Cartellone, someone with whom Kirker had previously collaborated. Together, Kirker and Cartellone create most of the music on the new release. Cartellone even helped Kirker with some of the arrangements on the new release. To bring the Shallow End of a Deep River release to life, Kirker and Cartellone were also joined by several other musicians who helped add just the right sound to the album. Along with Kirker and Cartellone, the rest of the lineup includes: bassist John Papa, pianist Peter Keys and keyboard player Benny Harrison.

The new release of Shallow End of a Deep River from Tim Kirker begins with the track “A New Plan”. Right from the start, the new release from Tim Kirker begins with a lot of energy as “A New Plan” has a strong Rock and Roll musical approach. The straight-out rock feel of the music gives the track an almost timeless feel as the song could be from any decade of the last 30 years or so. The strong guitar part from Kirker mixes well with the energetic drumming Michael Cartellone. The lyrics about finding a new way of doing things also seem very timeless. The track is a strong way to begin the new release from Kirker.

Just like “A New Plan” before it, the song “I’d Walk a Million Miles” is a track that feels somewhat timeless. Although, with this track, Kirker brings more than just Rock and Roll into the music of the track. The musical feel of the song seems like equal parts Rock and Roll and Blues. The Blues-Rock style of the song mixed with the unique feel of the drums on the track from Michael Cartellone makes “I’d Walk a Million Miles” seem like a song that would end up being a sure-fire hit if released as a single.

While “A New Plan” and “I’d Walk a Million Miles” contain strong beats and sounds that would draw the listener in, another track that would draw the listener in is the song “Don’t Give up on Me”. Unlike the first two tracks on the release, “Don’t Give up on Me” features a slightly slower pace to the music. The track also has quite a different musical approach as the music of the track has a very strong jazz influence to it. The Jazz/Rock combination in the track creates one of the most unique sounds of any of the songs on Shallow End of a Deep River. The track ends up being one of the standout tracks on the album and is strong enough to be a single off the release.

The new release from Tim Kirker continues with the album’s title track. “Shallow End of the River” finds Kirker joined by Peter Keys, keyboard player from Lynyrd Skynyrd. The addition of Keys’ keyboards gives the track a slightly different feel than most of the rest of the release as the keyboards give the track a bit more melody to it. The track is yet another that draws the listener in.

Shallow End of a Deep River continues with the track “Window With the Shade Pulled Down”. On this track, Kirker and percussionist Michael Cartellone end up making a track that features an influence from The Police as the guitar playing and vocal performance from Kirker bring to mind Sting’s post-Police work. The track also features a slight psychedelic feel as the guitar comes with a slight reverb to it.

Yet another track that is worth mentioning is the final song of the release called “She Lives in Mansions Filled with Empty Rooms”. The closing track on the album slows the pace down quite a bit. The guitar playing on the track is what really stands out. The slower pace of the music creates a Blues/Rock groove that brings to mind Eric Clapton. The track helps show off the talent of Tim Kirker as a guitarist. Created by only Michael Cartellone and Tim Kirker, the track also shows off Kirker’s talent as an all-around musician.

While it’s been quite a while since Tim Kirker’s Like Distant Sounds release from 2003, the strength of the songs in the new album make up for the time between releases. Shallow End of a Deep River, the new release from Tim Kirker, contains many tracks worthy of being mentioned. The new album is one of those rare finds where you simply put the album on and let it play out without skipping a single track.

For just a taste of the music of Tim Kirker, check out the song “I’d Walk a Million Miles” of the Shallow End of a Deep River album.