Timothy Hull

   Born of an Irish mother and American father, Timothy grew up with time split between the old country and the new. "My parents’ work would take them to Scotland most summers, and they’d cart me along," he explains. "By the time I was 14 or 15, I was staying on overseas to work and ramble around. The world there just sort of seeped under my skin."
It’s appropriate that Timothy should use that phrase, as that is exactly what his songs do: seep in under the skin, and reside there, almost physically. They are dreamy and vivid, glorious and sad. "The sky is wild and open/Open like an orchestra," he sings in "Following Sky," then softly intones, "Huddled in an underpass/the remnants of the working class," in the striking "The Boys from Downtrodden Down." The songs might insinuate like soft spring rain, or blow in like a February gale. On the anthemic "Rag-Tag," Timothy belts out the credo, "Dream the way you want to be/Live the way you dreamed you’d be/And sing the songs that set you free/In a new direction," only to return to whispering secrets like, "I met a girl with antique eyes/At dawn she wasn’t there/I think of her in springtime/With her honeysuckle hair," in "Up In Meath."

Such an intimate moment might not suggest it, but the latter song was inspired by a posting about a local anti-corporate conflict which Timothy found on the Irish Indymedia website – an example of his effortless blend of concerns personal and political, local and global, the ancient and the up-to-the-minute. As Seattle’s Victory Review remarked, his "songs explore familiar ‘folk’ themes such as economic and social injustice, and ecological conservation, yet it would be inaccurate to say that they are really ‘about’ them. Instead, Hull's songs are about life lived on a human scale, as captured in his vivid snapshots of playing and living on the streets or in a makeshift camp by a river, of wandering and rambling the roads and the rails, of making do in difficult circumstances. And in the immediacy and simple ‘dailiness’ of these images, we feel the resonance of those larger themes more keenly."

Timothy began playing guitar at the impressionable age of 13, and writing songs not too long after. Asked for influences he’ll go on and on: "Joe Strummer, The Bothy Band, Django Reinhardt, The Grateful Dead, Dick Gaughan, New Model Army, loads of my friends who are songwriters, activists, and gardeners, Gram Parsons, Marc Chagall…." Asked to describe his songs, though: "Um…well…." That’s best left to others. Fortunately, music critics and DJs have stepped in with such praise as: "neo-Celtic guitar wizardry and rocker heart," "many moments of transcendence," "the ability to tell a story that touches the heart just as powerfully as rouse you to action to save a forest," and "thought-provoking lyrics about injustice, the environment, spirituality, and the mad aching beauty of life."

Timothy has released four full-length albums and a handful of EPs and singles. His pair of 2004 releases are Songs for Miriam and Other People and the eight-song benefit CD Live in Yachats. Of the studio album, he says, "We reached for the moon with that one. I wanted to make an album where the songs sound like they do inside my head, even if I couldn’t reproduce the arrangements live." As the in-concert disc reveals, though, that’s not a problem, as his instrumental dexterity, pure voice, and intimate performance style more than effectively bring the material across to an audience.

What’s next? An album of traditional songs from Ireland and Scotland, followed by another collection of new compositions. "We’ll go reaching for the moon again," he predicts, "and hope we don’t lose our bearings somewhere up in the stratosphere." And what’s this timeless troubador’s timeline? "Hopefully we can get it all done by breakfast, or at least by tea."

Timothy Hull

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