Tim Dillinger - The Muse (2006)

Tim Dillinger

Tim Dillinger clearly went into the recording of his sophomore album, The Muse, with a message he wanted to deliver.  And the disc doesn't waste time covering typical messages of love and romance. Instead, the 17 songs convey Dillinger's earnest message of faith, racial harmony and personal integrity -- all without sounding too preachy. 

Tim Dillinger clearly went into the recording of his sophomore album, The Muse, with a message he wanted to deliver.  And the disc doesn't waste time covering typical messages of love and romance. Instead, the 17 songs convey Dillinger's earnest message of faith, racial harmony and personal integrity -- all without sounding too preachy. 

Musically, The Muse shows Dillinger's continued development as both a writer and a song stylist.  His voice is an amazing instrument, and it stands front and center on The Muse, swooping and wailing  through a collection of soul, Gospel and hip-hop tracks in a way few modern singers could.  It's particularly gratifying to observe Dillinger's growth as a songwriter.  Beautiful ballads like "Tell Me That I Can" and "Seasons" (featuring Daryl Coley) are supplemented by a bunch of solid midtempos, such as "You're Gone," "It's In the Air" and "That's What I Feel."  Best of all are "(I'm Not) Colorblind," and "That's the Kind of Love" (presented both as a punchy midtempo reminiscent of Bobby Caldwell's "What You Won't Do For Love" and as a jazzy piece featuring Frank McComb), perhaps the two best songs Dillinger has ever recorded.

The advent of the CD twenty years ago created new opportunities to move beyond the 10-song album of the 70s.  However, artists have spent the last two decades struggling with the desire to fill the 80 minute disc and realization that they simply don't have 80 minutes of top notch music. And, like many other albums of developing artists, the sole weakness of The Muse displays is that there is simply too much.  So what would be a fantastic 10-12 track CD is extended to a longer disc that requires a bit more patience from its listeners.  However, patience is truly a virtue with this disc, and soul music fans who stick with the album to the end will find a bunch of gems, many of which are in the typically weaker spots in the second half of the disc. 

While it would have been more consistently excellent if trimmed by a few cuts, The Muse is clearly both a big step forward for Tim Dillinger and a solid contemporary soul album that deserves to be heard.  Recommended.

By Chris Rizik

 
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