Poet and author Ange Chan reflects on Tim Arnold’s new album ‘You Are For Me’
Tim Arnold is a musician of many years standing and I was lucky enough to listen to his latest musical offering, You Are For Me, his eighteenth album, produced by Tim and Ben Pelchat at Kensington Sound, Toronto.
Reading the lyrics, it’s apparent that the album is a highly personal recording of Tim’s journey, not only through life, but through his musical adventures across the years. Tim is a self-professed open book (and indeed this is the title of one of the songs) and his candidness and honesty shines through in each song, which tackles subjects of lovers, wannabe lovers and broken hearts. Tim establishes that being in love with someone is great, but being “for” someone is a deeper kind of connection, and he conveys this heartfelt emotion throughout the album which gives it a positive upbeat feel. Consequently, you can’t help but feel uplifted by the lyrics and music of an enviable kind of halcyon meeting of minds.
The spontaneous album came about quite quickly, and by complete surprise in that it wasn’t a conscience decision of Tim’s to write this album. In actual fact, another album was in the process of being written during this process, however You Are For Me came together in part by Tim’s travels in Spain and North America and a documentation of some challenging times in his life.
The opening track About You is an upbeat enthusiastic song which documents that, despite travelling far and wide, Tim craves the company of that special someone to share it all with. The intensity of the lyrics in the song showcases Tim’s feelings of experiencing the flushes of love, and the urgency to enjoy the feeling of getting to know everything about a person. Written in Spain at his Mum’s home and influenced by the country’s flamenco hues, Tim sought out a flamenco dancer for the song’s video whilst he was in Toronto.
Hope is Like the Sun is almost a verbatim diary entry of Tim’s time spent at Los Angeles and covers a journey he took in the area one day and continues with the theme of wishing that special someone was accompanying him on the journey. The title is borrowed from the Star Wars film, The Last Jedi, and is quoted by Admiral Holdo quoting Princess Leia. It has a very positive, funky vibe reminiscent of the laid back, matter-of-factness of the Californian ethos.
In I’m An Open Book, the song has a certain quirkiness to it and was highly inspired by Toronto’s Kensington Market, adoring the area’s shininess yet slightly grubby round the edges, reminiscent to Tim of Soho of old. It has musical references to both Prince and The Beatles’ Sergeant Pepper era, having a mix of both of those influences. I particularly like the lyric “you can write your name on the cover, ‘cos the day you were born the world shook”.
The fourth track Happy Thought references a quote from the story of Peter Pan, and Tim’s general love of children’s literature in general. The simple act of ‘thinking happy to become happy’ and in a place of comfortable well-being. It’s the song’s representation of ‘Tim personified’ with his positive, childlike innocence, seemingly untainted by the world’s weariness and embraces the flushes of wanting to impress a new lover with all that you are.
Natural has a slower pace and is the perfect subtext to the previous track, Natural was written at a vintage Yamaha piano bequeathed to Kensington Sound by Peter Appleyard’s daughter Susie which plays much like a vintage Steinway piano with a personality of its own, having been manufactured in the same ethos. It has a John Lennon feel about the song with a similar personality as Imagine.
Two of Her Favourite Things was written quickly after a conversation Tim had with an actress ‘in the middle of a feeling he didn’t want to end’. Another piano-based track, it has a quirky ‘cheeky chappie’ element to it almost like a Sixties film soundtrack (think The Divine Comedy’s ‘Becoming More Like Alfie’) and doesn’t fail to make you feel both hopeful and happy. The song ends with “Cut! That’s a wrap!” which only adds to the soundtrack element of the song.
A Woman in This World to Worship is a song Tim always intended to write but never quite made it until this album. It references his true feelings about being a man wanting to meet a woman, fall romantically and unrelentingly in love and to worship them forever. It again has a movie soundtrack feeling to it and evokes images of a road trip along a seemingly endless, dusty American dirt track road.
Love For A Day tackles the subject of a fleeting unrequited love and was again written in Spain at his Mother’s home in Malaga. It’s very much influenced by his formative years watching his Mum Polly Perkins sing as a chanteuse in the clubs of Soho and in the style of the storyteller in Marc Almond, musically drawing influences from Jacques Brel, Judy Garland and Edith Piaf. It’s my favourite track on the album and has a wistfully melancholic element with beautiful, meaningful lyrics.
Returning to an upbeat song about the joyfulness of love, Sunshine Through the Rain picks up that East Coast Canada vibe reminiscent to me of those Canadian pop stalwarts, Barenaked Ladies. However, the mood changes dramatically on the last track on the album A Page in Your Parade which was the first complete song Tim ever wrote as a 13-year old boy, and has never been previously recorded. It came to light when Tim recently went through a similar scenario and he recalled the words he wrote all those years ago. Performed on the piano it concludes the album on a thoughtful note of what could’ve been.
The album has an overall classic feel to it, as though its already established in your psyche. It has a playful innocence in many places, and a cohesiveness that only a complete body of work which is delivered in an album format can deliver. It takes the listener on a journey of Tim’s life and not only references the things that he treasures, but also that which torments him. This makes the album an honest ‘whole picture’, painting a picture of not only the cosy things in Tim’s life but also those that which makes him uncomfortable. It’s this kind of candidness that draws you into the album and which gives it a respectable integrity.
You Are For Me is being released on Tim’s birthday, 3rd July and will be available exclusively in the UK on all digital platforms. If you’re outside of the UK, the deluxe download edition of the album is available worldwide here from July 3rd Highly Recommended.
A worldwide release of a 31-track Deluxe Download will be available from this website 3rd July, 2018. Check here for Tim’s live UK dates this Summer.