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Chameleon (Dig)

An album by Tim O'Brien

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If There's Any Justice

  • Jun 3, 2008
If there's any justice in the recording industry (and I have my doubts) Chameleon is going to take the Best Folk Recording of 2008. "Chameleon" is a CD worth owning. Download tracks if you must, but this CD is of a whole, and it hits all the right notes. According to the liner notes, Tim O'Brien took his instruments (and he plays a lot of them at virtuoso level) and a bunch of song ideas into the woodshed and didn't come out until he had this recording. Time well spent.

"Chameleon" kicks off with a bluesy guitar riff that gets you bouncing from the first few bars. I'm put in the mind of Leon Redbone but with more ooomph. In fact there are a number of cuts on this CD that remind me of other artists: Norman Blake, Tom Paxton, and even the great John Prine, but the tunes are derivative in only the best sense that this is rooted American music that builds on tradition. That may account for the title, Mr. O'Brien might change his colors, but he remains a lizard throughout.

Mr. O'Brien is also just a little ticked off at the state of the world, and the individual cupidity that keeps things running down. Hence the Tom Paxton influence. Politics with a humorous edge - good for kids and adults.

It's not often I'm able to give anything a whole-hearted recommendation, but "Chameleon" is one of the few gems out there that shines in any light.

Buy it! Buy the whole thing! You'll like it.

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More Chameleon (Dig) reviews
review by . May 04, 2008
This is the first time that I've ever heard of Tim O'Brien. Listening to the snippets on the product page enticed me enough to give this album a shot through the Vine program. I was quite surprised. Take a little bit of folk, a little bit of bluegrass, add some straight-up hillbilly and a little politics and you have O'Brien's latest album, "Chameleon." Playing instruments that span a time period from 1922 to 2004, O'Brien peppers his traditional sounding tunes with some very modern topics. "Phantom …
review by . April 28, 2008
Tim O'Brien's new solo release finds him in very fine voice and delightfully showcasing his skills on a variety of stringed instruments. In addition to being consistently tuneful, his voice has a warmth and richness which I found reminiscent of the great English Folk singer Roy Bailey. The 16 tracks on this album incorporate a broad range of traditions, including various shades of Country/Folk and Blues.    None of the songs themselves are startlingly, or even memorably, original. …
review by . April 24, 2008
After initially planning to sample it a little and then settling back to get the full experience later, I couldn't let go. Best laid plans don't you know? More than an hour later, after two consecutive play throughs, my feet were still tapping. This is flat out enjoyable music, artfully performed and with just enough lyrical commentary to give it some serious bite.    This was my first exposure to Tim O'Brien and it surely won't be my last. The musical marketing powers that be …
About the reviewer
Richard Wells ()
Ranked #64
Community Organizer by profession, artist at heart. "I been all 'round this world..."
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"...O'Brien plays the hell out of them....and the material...confounds expectations in charming fashion. -- Ed Hurt
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Label: Proper American
Artist: Tim O'Brien
Release Date: March 25, 2008

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