Published Jan 23, 2015Tim Bradford is full of a forgotten brand of cowboy wisdom. And like certain proverbs of old, Bradford's wisdom isn't overly complicated but it is full of heart and easy to listen to. His full-length debut album, Drinking Alone, is an earnest account of many things, but primarily, as the title indicates, it concerns itself with failed romances and the consequences of heartbreak.
Bradford's pleasant croon is relatable for its endearing amicability and optimistic tone — a remarkable ability to sing the sad songs in a coltish fashion. Rural metaphors and sly storytelling make Bradford seem like a close friend confiding in you about the unfortunate events of the night before. Domestic dysfunction and mutual reliance is a topic often touched on for Bradford. Preaching on "Better Than Drinking Alone," Bradford discloses a Sabbath tradition wherein he and his lady "Bask in the glory of a church full of red neon lights, where the pulpits lined with bar stools, the organ is a jukebox, and the prayers are all led by George Jones." The portrait is clear: Bradford's lifestyle and women don't mix as well as rum and coke; that's a good thing for the listener, as his rural and city stories are entirely relatable.
As smooth as the whiskey sung about are Burke Carroll's lap steel on "Walk of Shame" and "Always Be Blue," John Showman's fiddle on "On the Line" and "Take You Back Again" and Will Meadows' mandolin break on "Run To the Pines." The music harmoniously connects with Bradford's themes by shadowing lonely and riotous conduct: sad sliding steel for dark ballroom lamentations and blistering Thorogood guitar for roadhouse brawls. Much like Merle Haggard's work (his song "The Bottle Let Me" is covered in this album), Drinking Alone will make you wish you could sing the country blues like a cowboy. (Independent)