Tim Edey's new album is full of surprises, including a handful of songs, yes songs! Seán Laffey puts a call into Kent to discover how it all came about.
The album's title How Do You Know? comes from a 1975 song by Californian Tucker Zimmerman, it is all about allowing consequences and time to work themselves out; it is a song Tim has known for years.
"It was in my head since first playing it with my friend Enda McCabe who lived in Faversham Kent. I started playing in his band around the clubs, weddings, pubs, dances of the South East, and although I only started singing it around 4-5 years ago now, that song has stuck with me."
"I have had huge help and encouragement from my partner, a fine Scottish singer Isobel Crowe. I really wanted to do an album to document this. When we had our first child Ava (now four), we lived in the hills in Perthshire where Isobel is from, and through her I met and got to know the record producer Robin Wynn Evans. Robin has a studio Tpot in the stunning hills above a village called Dunning. We recorded the album there."
Tim says, "songwriters have been with me since I was born. My middle name is Ewan after Ewan MacColl." Inspired by many, he singles out Cape Breton's Buddy MacDonald as having "a magical touch. I fell in love with his song Down Where The River Flows. It has all the essential ingredients of a great folk song." It seems the world wants to play music with Tim Edey, and not just folk musicians. Last year's collaboration with songwriter Padraig Lalor and ararnger Fyfe Dangerfield was folks getting together and believing in a project. "I never forget Seamus Begley saying to me many years ago 'you are only as good as your last gig' so I never take being in demand for granted."
So what about the technical side of his guitars and how he records them. "For live gigs I have a beautiful nylon string Yamaha NTX900 guitar. It was given to me by my friend from Cape Breton JP Cormier and I have a Taylor GS-mini steel. I played classical guitar from the very start. I disagree entirely with anyone who thinks you have to have a $$$$ guitar to sound good... it's all in the player. I remember moaning once in Canada to Brendan Power about the sound of my guitar being dull. Tony MacManus tried my guitar on the back of a van door and ... my god ... no words, his sound was ... heaven. And yes the strings were old and just off a long haul flight too. It proved my point; a good player can make any guitar sound decent, as long as the basic things like strings and intonation are good. My Yamaha I would imagine you could get for around €750-€900, so it is not an expensive guitar by today's standards."
"Recording is all about microphone placement... the old school ways, which people like Robin Wynn Evans use. Well, you cannot beat them. Things like old vintage Nemann mics. I was at John Reynold's studio recently and John like Robin is a top engineer and producer, he just got the warmth out."
There's new school too, as Tim broadcasts live on the web, for fret fans it's a treat, but many players would find it daunting. "Ah the kitchen sessions! It's mad. I have to thank Brendan Power for getting me onto this media of the video broadcast. It's something I love to do."
"To play merely off the floor, play anything that comes into your head, be it a Kerry air or a Scottish song or a Vaughan Williams piece and warts and all. Just film and broadcast live on Facebook at 1am or so! I have had nothing but positive reactions."
"We have entered an age in trad and folk where studio perfection or over rehearsal seems very much the norm, no offense meant to anyone reading this but... Folk music is meant to be just that, music of the moment, not edited to hell or auto tuned to within a milli-second of perfection."
For some magical spontaneous moments, I can highly recommend How Do You Know?
First published @ Irish Music Magazine #260, April 2017 (www.irishmusicmagazine.com).
Photo Credits: (1),(3) Tim Edey (unknown/website); (2) Seamus Begley (by Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup).