Sept. 14th , 2004 TG269 CD:
Sally Timms: In The World of Him

Read Linda Ray's Review for No depression!


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About the cover



1. Sentimental Marching Song (sound clip)
2. Corporal Chalkie
3. God's Eternal Love
4. High Dosage
5. 139 Hermansler Gurtel (sound clip)
6. Fools We Arev As Men
7. Bomb (sound clip)
8. I'm just a man
9. Little Tommy Tucker (sound clip on Touch and Go)

soundclips are about 30 seconds



Justin Asher: clavinette, org, synth, vco, sampler, bass, gt.
Willie B.: dr, moog bass, xylorimba
Johnny Dowd: el gt
Kim Sherwood Caso: voc on Little Tommy Tucker
Joan Wasser: violin on Little Tommy Tucker
Ted Reichmann: acc on Fools We Are As Men and Bomb
Jon Langford: voc on Corpolral Chalkie
Jon Rauhouse: banjo, mandolin and tipple on High Dosage
Eric Johnson: gt on Fools We Are As Men
Evelyn Weston: saw on High Dosage
Tom Greenhalgh: electric guitar on Corporal Chalkie
Mekons: music on Bomb

Recorded and mixed at The Shop, Willseyville NY
Produced by Johnny Dowd with Justin Asher and Sally Timms
Engineering and programming: Justin Asher
Additional recording and mixing at the Western Soundlab with Ken Sluiter and at the Kingsize Soundlabs with Mike Hagler
Photography by Larry Sultan
Booking: Boche at


1. Sentimental Marching Song (Langford/Skull Orchard, 1998)

in the barber's shop
in the game
in the lair of the wrinkled old worm
all men the same
all men the same born to brutalise
on every scale on every scale
i'm skipping down the iron line
cocooned in a fist
i;m running throught the tension rods
never kissed
so stop all that moaning and sing
along with the sirens outside
i'll be over at ten we can take a ride
the beast lurches into the road breathing deep
buckets of brains
the room's full of sleep
he needs a little love at closing time

2. Corporal Chalkie (Mekons/Devils, Rats & Piggies, 1980)

lying in bed with my girl from sussex
reading the writings of a man from kent
and the earth in the garden gets blacker
just another war we say
i'm the man from surrey with a ground floor flat
and i know what happened before i was born
the huns and the nips got uppy with blighty
and tommy went out and beat them all home
running for breakfast with my call up forms
seeing the sniper and the bullets in my arms
and the great big bloke from platoon thirty two
is calling me a poof and a stream of number two

3. God’s Eternal Love (Mark Eitzel, Executioners Last Songs Vol 2&3)

All the good Christians vote and vote to build more prisons
So it's easier for one and all to feel the teeth of their lions
If you want to see the future look in the tired eyes
of those you hold so close and so dear
You'll see their hunger glitter like your greed in God
Their hate will shine a star so clear

Draw in the gangplank and cast off all the lines
One blast of a horn and we'll melt with the time
Feel the ache of the engines and the pull of our blood
And hope that we'll make it to God's eternal love

Those you lock away will defeat you
They know all your secrets
They wear your indifference like a boast
And your death is only the key to their future
And your children are just pigs they will roast

So draw in the gangplank and cast off all lines
One blast of a horn and we'll melt with the time
And you'll never escape from the pull of your blood
I hope that you make it to God's eternal love

Will you take all your burdens to the Lord?
You'll find him in his exclusive garden
located behind the butchers yard
Will you take all your burdens to the Lord?

4. High Dosage (Sean Garrison)

flat as sandpaper and twice as grating
giving the patient one hell of a dose
ask me the question but you know the answer
it rings in my ears and it clings to my clothes
but children and dogs always know
it's raining today and now my bones are aching
wanting to give them a taste of my boots
we live in a world that has no need for lovers
take hold of your heart pull it out by the roots
it's better to leave all the bedsheets unturned
it's better to leave it behind
but look a bit closer and you will find out
why a good man is so hard to find
think of the weather think of the ocean
and think of the moment when you're mouth went dry
asking the question but knowing the answer
unlike all the victims who never know why
memory as empty as sky
sharp as an icepick rusty and broken
giving my doctors one hell of a dose
light from the eyes coming just like a lantern
ringing the bell and then cheating the host
but children..

5. 139 Hermansler Gurtel (Johnny Dowd/unreleased)

In the world of him
Girly men walk sweetly across the borders of skin
Latex icons line the shelves like toy soldiers in a sex army
Up uncle Norbert’s skirt
The patriotic wind blows
Stiffening his mighty sword

Jesus waits behind the counter
For the soldiers to return
From the march to Bethlehem

Oh what a wonderful war it was
So sleek and artificial
Every uniform a meaningless waltz of detail
Every night a fire in Vienna (3x)

The patriotic wind blows
Stiffening his mighty sword

. . .waits behind the counter for the soldiers to return

oh what a wonderful war it was
so sleek and artificial

every night a fire in Vienna (who sings?)

6. The Fools We Are As Men (Ryan Adams/Gold Bonus Disk)

Lord, Lord, can you hear me? Oh, I am in pain
And I don't have a woman left to blame, anymore
She left me this morning
So why does the wind go howling her name?
Are your angels just children laughing insane
At the fools we are as men? Go count me in.
Lord, Lord, can you hear me, oh, I am not well
And I spend all my time here in this cell of my heart
An actor not given a part
So why does the wind go howling her name?
Are your angels just children laughing insane
At the fools we are as men? Go count me in.
Lord, Lord, take my hand and please, please lead me through
I have no one and I am counting on you, now that I'm old
And I'm so scared of dying alone
And how does the wind go howling her name?
Are your angels just children laughing insane
At the fools we are as men? Well go count me in.

7. THE BOMB--Mekons

Tie a red silk scarf around my mouth
This protest needs the hearing and the sight
Fantastic place to be, a place to live in
Forgive them, they are young and rich and white

Cash rules everything around me
The slowest animals have up and gone
An accident sits down with you for breakfast
Things are better now we have the bomb

A stranger pulls the white sheet from your body
Crutches tap the rhythm of a song
An accident sits down with you for breakfast
Things are better now we have the bomb

Lovely girls slip softly into ruin
Boys of summer scattered all around
We thought we were natural survivors
Forgive me if I go out with a bang

8. I’m Just a Man (Kevin Coyne/Millionaires and Teddybears 1978)

It’s not that I want to do anything that hurts you or demeans you
It’s not that I want to do anything that could even make you cry for a
minute or an hour or a day
I just want you anyway to understand I’m just a man in love with you

9. Little Tommy Tucker

he is just nine years old
in darkness he lies
under the black sky
see the trees in bloom
see the trees in bloom
see the snow fall down

go take a ribbon blue
go tie it round the tower
and round the family jewels
bind weeds and daisy chains
none shall be married
none shall be married
none shall be married

and now they are all men
complete and fully grown
go buy a piece of linen
and make yourself a shroud
to mourn those hands
to mourn those hands
you'll never know

bind weeds and daisy chains
none shall be married


Interview from Fear of Speed

From the Irish Times (Sept. 10):

"The Mekons were a British band, heavily influenced by punk, who discovered country and later went to the US, where two of the band's key figures, Jon Langford and Sally Timms, are celebrated in circles for their songs and singing, respectively. Timms has a strong, seductive voice full of nuance and intelligence, with more than a hint of the traditional singer, as in the mournful 'Little Tommy Tucker.' This project typically comes from an odd angle: all nine songs were written by men about men's feelings about relationships, war etc. To complete the leftfield nature of the shortish album, Timms teamed up with maverick singer-guitarist Johnny Dowd and his band, whose playing is never less than challenging. That said, the contrast between their edgy backing and her pure voice is quite unnerving, even attractive in an arty manner and certainly different, as the powerful 'I'm Just a Man' testifies."

Joe Breen

Chicago Reader: Section 3 / September 10, 2004

Cowboy Sally Goes a-Wanderin'
On her first solo album in five years, Sally Timms leaves the country behind.

Larry Sultan's much praised photo series "The Valley" captures actors in between takes at X-rated-film shoots. The centerpiece of the collection is a stark portrait of porn star Sharon Wild: wearing stilettos and a bra and panties, she perches at the end of a stripped bed with a mussed throw, cradling herself and staring into the distance. Something about the expression on her face, neither defiant nor despairing, resonated with Sally Timms.

When it came time for Timms to design the cover for her new album, In the World of Him (Touch and Go) -- a suite of songs largely written by men about women -- she persuaded Sultan himself to restage the shot with her as the subject. Timms opted, however, to pose in a slip. "There's no way I wanted to put my entire body in its current state on an album cover," the 44-year-old Brit says wryly.

In the World of Him began taking shape when Timms was nearly ten years younger, well before the 1999 release of her last solo record, Cowboy Sally's Twilight Laments for Lost Buckaroos. Cuts like "Bomb," by her longtime band the Mekons, and Jon Langford's "Sentimental Marching Song" appeared in her solo sets in the mid-90s, and during these shows she'd often accompany herself using an old Yamaha QY10 sequencer. "I've always liked the idea of having these low-grade electronic toys mixing in with other stuff. And I wanted to make a record like that, an oddball folk record," she says.

She began working on an embryonic version of the record with Langford at his home studio in 1998, but the sessions stalled as Timms, who rarely writes her own material, struggled to find suitable songs. "And then it just seemed easier to do something else," she says. "Hence the country record."

Recorded in three days and released by Bloodshot, Twilight Laments featured a set of quaint country covers. "I was surprised how well the record did," Timms says. "I thought it was a little throwaway thing. I'm not ashamed of it -- but I never listen to it."

Over the next couple years Timms started and then abandoned work on two more country-themed albums for Bloodshot. "I got halfway through making them and I thought, 'This isn't really me, it's not what I want to do right now,'" she says. The Mekons kept busy, and she made guest appearances on other people's albums. "But I never felt this great urgency to get [the solo record] done until a year ago, at which point I finally had six or seven songs that could form the basis for this album I'd been thinking of."

Timms made a couple of brief efforts at recording the disc with post-rock engineer Casey Rice and Tortoise's Johnny Herndon, "people who were programming things and cutting things up in a way that I thought would be interesting," she says. "But I didn't have enough stuff for them to sink their teeth into." Finally, last March Timms was in London on tour with the Mekons when she ran into offbeat Americana singer Johnny Dowd, a southern-bred trucking-company owner who put out his first record just shy of age 50. The two had previously shared bills, and Timms had become a fan of Dowd's disquieting goth country, which incorporates quirky electronics and other unorthodox instrumentation. When she complained to Dowd about her frustration in trying to realize the skewed folk album she had in mind, he offered up his studio and his band's services.

Beginning last May, Timms made the first of nearly half a dozen pilgrimages to Dowd's studio in Ithaca, New York. The final list of songs she'd decided on suggested both the album's concept and its title. In addition to being written by men, "they were all songs...where men are basically talking about what they do or explaining themselves to women," she says. Aside from the material by Langford and the Mekons and a tune of her own, "Little Tommy Tucker," Timms covers Brit singer-songwriter Kevin Coyne's "I'm Just a Man," Ryan Adams's "The Fools We Are as Men," Mark Eitzel's "God's Eternal Love," Sean Garrison's "High Dosage," and Dowd's "139 Hermansler Gurtel."

"The minute I heard those songs I went, 'OK, that's for me,'" Timms says. "I'm pretty good at finding things that work. It has to be pretty dramatic lyrically and move at a certain pace." On In the World of Him that pace tends to be funereal. Dowd's band summons up a grim march for most of the tracks, deploying a small arsenal of spooky samples and stabbing synth lines.

Timms finished up the basic tracking with Dowd last fall, completed vocals at Western Soundlabs and Kingsize studios in Chicago, then went back to Ithaca to finalize the mix. "I spent more time working on this record than anything else I've done," she says.

Her longtime collaborator Langford, on the other hand, spent far less time on it than on her previous projects -- his sole contribution is a brief spoken-word passage at the end of "Corporal Chalkie." "In the past it was very easy for me to sit back and let someone else do all the work, and a lot of times that's been Jon," Timms says. "This is the first record where I actually took responsibility for it."

Her efforts pay off. A dark and richly textured affair, the album is filled with blues laments and streams of unsettling imagery delivered in a sometimes ghostly, sometimes menacing soprano.

"With the Cowboy Sally album I wanted to make a really pretty record that people would enjoy listening to, because that's where my head was at," she says. "This time I was more pissed, and I wanted to make one that people wouldn't enjoy listening to."

In the last few years Timms has been through a series of personal upheavals. After she separated from her husband, former Trenchmouth drummer and current Saturday Night Live cast member Fred Armisen, both of her parents died within a few months of each other. "Those were some pretty cataclysmic things that happened in my life," she says. "And the truth is, I was incredibly depressed. Looking back on it, I think I'm just now coming out of what was a four- or five-year severe depression -- all of which probably came out in this album."

Timms plans to hit the road in support of the record in November and December. She'll coheadline the shows with Dowd and his band, who'll also back her. In the meantime, she already has the concept and cover photo lined up for her next album: "It's going to be an avant-garde dub record called 'Great Big Viking Woman,'" she says, grinning. "And the cover photo is going to be me in a Viking outfit and helmet with horns on it. I'll be a lot more comfortable in that than in my underwear."



I wanted to write something insightful, truthful, life-changing about the new Sally Timms solo album, but I came up with nada, other that this is a really good album by one of my favourite singers.

I really like this album both for the performance and for the concept. Sally Timms is best known as the female singer for The Mekons, a band I have been a fan of for decades. You should be one too. Really.

After several genre-defying and defining albums, Timms comes out with a subtle concept - a woman sings songs written by men about men. "In The World of Him" features songs by Mekons and leader Jon Langford plus , Mark Eitzel, Johnny Dowd, Kevin Coyne and more.

Sally Timms' vocals have been the high-point for me of the last half-dozen Mekons albums, and on this collection of post-rock tunes, she shines. There are elements of pop, dub, folk, rock, and alt-whatever.

While I think about it, this is probably an answer record to Afghan Whigs "Gentlemen". A tight collection of nine songs with one of the best voices in alt-rock, you can't help but want this.

by Jim Carruthers


As prolific as Jon Langford and Sally Timms are with long-running country-punk legends the Mekons -- not to mention Langford's activities with the Waco Brothers and the Pine Valley Cosmonauts and Timms' frequent appearances lending her glorious voice to other groups around town -- it's a wonder that the two have anything left for their solo efforts. But their latest offerings are not only strong and consistent, they expose new sides of the musicians' rich personas and complicated aesthetics, especially in Timms' case.

On his first (and last) proper solo effort, "Skull Orchard" (1998), Langford returned to the Wales of his youth, rocking harder than he has at any point in the last decade, other than the Mekons' recent old-school punk disc. With "All the Fame of Lofty Deeds," he's back in his more familiar musical mode, bringing a punk-rock consciousness to the sort of gritty country played by Hank Williams, whose ghost is evoked in Langford's haunting cover art, as well as in this concept album's tale of a Grand Ol' Opry runner-up (the fictional character of Lofty Deeds) whose work is destroyed by drink and drugs but who fails to see the error of his ways as he hurtles toward a premature death.

It's the interconnected novelist arc of these story-songs that mark this material for a Langford solo effort, rather than as tunes for the Waco Brothers or the Pine Valley Cosmonauts, who in fact back the singer up on two tunes. Musically, these 11 songs would fit nicely in the set lists of either of those groups -- especially the cover of Bob Wills' "Trouble in Mind" (less so with Procol Harum's "Homburg," which gets a wonderfully maudlin reading). But stepping out of those contexts allows the Welshman not only to tell a bigger story full of insight and humor -- that of Deeds, as well as a tale of politics and the erosion of values in his adopted country -- but to comment on his own strange relationship with country music and to boast about his pride in not compromising. "Success on someone else's terms don't mean a f---in' thing/I'm going over the cliff," Langford-as-Deeds sings.

Timms is a great interpretive singer, not a songwriter -- she wrote only one of the nine tunes on this disc, "Little Tommy Tucker," which is a creepy little gem -- but "In the World of Him" is also a concept album. The singer has been collecting these songs for several years, amassing a well-chosen set of tunes written by men and sung from their perspectives, addressing topics ranging from the wars between countries to the wars between men and women.

It's a diverse roster of contributors -- including alt-country heartthrob Ryan Adams, mood-rocker Mark Eitzel, Johnny Dowd and the aforementioned Langford -- but the constants that hold the disc together are Timms' ethereal vocals and a distinctive production by Dowd. This is a surprising departure from Timms' last solo disc, the considerably more lighthearted "Cowboy Sally's Twilight Laments for Lost Buckaroos" (1999). Dark, twisted and arty, it brings to mind Tom Waits at his best, or maybe percussion-heavy post-rockers Tortoise trying to play country music with Loretta Lynne.

Jim DeRogatis Chicago Sun Times

From: all

Review by Thom Jurek

Sally Timms' In the World of Him is easily her most provocative record. It is a collection of songs almost exclusively by men, sung from their perspective on various themes ranging from war, abandonment, death, marriage, and the inability to communicate emotions inherent in those experiences. Timms co-produced the album with Justin Asher, and Johnny Dowd (who play on the set as well). Various Timms' mates from the Mekons are present here too, in Tom Greenhalgh, Jon Rauhouse, and Jon Langford. The record is skeletal, slightly out of kilter, timeless, eerie, and utterly beautiful. Though written by seven different songwriters, the feel of the disc is something akin, albeit it in a very modern way, to Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill's cabaret music. Decadence, malaise, tragedy and brokenness hover about these proceedings like ghosts. The album opens with Langford's "Sentimental Marching Song," with shifty keyboards, a xylorimba, breakbeats, and a synthed-out bass line that feels unsettling at first, but Timms sweet balladic vocal juxtaposes wonderfully with the synthetic instrumentation. The lyrics are nightmarish, wonderfully perverse and strangely vulnerable. The Mekons "Corporal Chalkie," a wartime dirge, follows with Asher's organ, a skittering, military-styled snare by Willie B and Dowd's guitars stretching the elegiac nature of the tune to the breaking point. Mark Eitzel's "God's Eternal Love," is haunted bewilderment and a hunted sense of acceptance. Electronic sounds -- a whispering guitar and sporadic percussive effects -- adorn Timms' empathetic vocal. Dowd's "139 Hernalser Gürtel," a perverse sexual circus of a waltz is fueled by an organ that sounds more like a calliope, and ends with a chorus that could be sung amongst weary, drunken friends. Timms delivers it with a particularly wasted savoir fare. The Mekons kick it on the mutant rock & roll of "Bomb." "I'm Just a Man" is the most surprising and beautiful song here, written by eccentric British songman Kevin Coyne. With a straight-up country-rock arrangement, taken just outside enough to be perverse, Timms and the band wrench every ounce of the writer's nakedly honest poetry form the tune. In the plaintive grain of the words: "It's not that I want to hold you ransom with foolish lies or lies, lies that tie you down/It's not that I don't want to marry you/because marrying would mean that I'd have to chain you not choose you/chain you not choose you/I love you and that alone I want to say and I've never wanted to say anything any other way/Than the way/I am saying it now/This is the way I really feel/And if I sound a little confused/It's because I'm so, oh, feeling for you/Can you understand?" ring with an empathy and revelation of the manner in which men wish they could speak to women. Timms' own version of the nursery rhyme "Tommy Tucker," which commences with her sing-songing the rhyme and moving into a beautiful song about its subject, now grown, alienated, and lonely. Hands down, In the World of Him is Timms' masterpiece.


The covers record is a grand art form, often abused, but with a concept like this one there's no way to go wrong. Sally Timms' latest solo album is primarily comprised of songs written by men, hence the title, and with anyone else some of the material might come off a bit too forced. Timms takes these songs and, to her credit, does not change any words or situations in the songs to make them work from a woman's perspective. These performances are the original songs in new arrangements, brought about by Timms and the engineering/production team of Johnny Dowd and Justin Asher. The emphasis is on raw, however, with songs sometimes reduced in parts to just Timms' voice, a foreboding and sensuous being all its own. She has chosen some rather interesting specimens to emulate, from her other band the Mekons to Mark Eitzel to Ryan Adams, and each interpretation bears a stamp that will never wash off in my mind. This makes it impossible to listen to the original song without thinking of Timms' rendition, a testament to her artistry and originality when the tunes aren't even hers to begin with. The two Mekons songs are especially moving, as her interpretation is informed by something deeper, so any changes could imply that perhaps this is the way Timms always wanted the song to go; though the Mekons are along for the ride, providing the music. Most of all, this is a solo album of striking variation, with revealing and incredibly provocative imagery. The instrumentation involved alone is a wild ride, from musical saw to accordion to moog bass to strightforward guitar and drums. Programming by Asher is never tiresome, and Timms' voice rising from a whisper to a plaintive wail and filling the room with naked emotion is purely goosebump-inducing. By the time "Little Tommy Tucker" takes the speakers, I'm spent, and it's almost the bedtime story I need to fall asleep. It would be, that is, if it weren't so completely mesmerizing, with her frightening "none shall be married" refrain repeating in my head so vividly that I may never sleep again. - Rob Devlin

From: New York Times:

Sally Timms, the clear-headed and calmly tender singer from the Mekons, announces her concept with the title of "In the World of Him" (Touch and Go). It's an album of songs about men and manliness, most of them written by men. As Ms. Timms contemplates war, machismo, love and death, the music surrounds the sustained emotion of her voice with a pensive, hallucinatory overlay.

She's backed by Johnny Dowd and his band, a group from Ithaca that encrusts roots-rock with bleak electronic interference. They can be sardonic; accordions tootle and electronics plink merrily in her version of the Mekons' "Bomb" as she sings, "Things are better now we have the bomb." Yet there is sympathy in Ms. Timms's voice, and a resigned understanding.

Not that she promises any soothing illusions. In the album's opener, "Sentimental Marching Song" (by Jon Langford of the Mekons), she sings, "All men the same, born to brutalize on every scale" amid nagging creaks, plinking marimba and sputtering sampled drums. In Kevin Coyne's "I'm Just a Man," a boyfriend's confused apologia, metallic percussion clanks while a slide guitar links the song to the country ballad it might have been.

Ms. Timms reaches back to the stoic fatalism of British traditional songs when she sings ballads like Mark Eitzel's "God's Eternal Love," Ryan Adams' "Fools We Are as Men" or her own "Little Tommy Tucker," which mourns a dead child as a violin drone vibrates all around her. What Ms. Timms and the musicians came up with for "In the World of Him" is never as simple as sarcasm, a diatribe or a jokey battle of the sexes. There's too much connection, and too much at stake.

from: http://Pitchforkmedia

Sally Timms
In the World of Him
[Touch & Go; 2004]
Rating: 6.7

As a longtime member of the tireless Mekons, Sally Timms is pretty much bound by oath to mingle genres and confound expectations. It's a creed that has served her well both within the group and without it, leading to successes like the Mekons' pioneering alt-country album Fear and Whiskey and her well-received 1999 Bloodshot release Cowboy Sally's Twilight Laments for Lost Buckaroos. But it also means she's been involved in her fair share of frustrating, undigested head-scratchers, and unfortunately, In the World of Him seems destined to join their ranks.

The gimmick this time around is that almost all of these nine songs are covers written by male songwriters and sung from a man's perspective. (The sole exception is the Timms original "Little Tommy Tucker", which is sung from the perspective of the now-grown nursery rhyme character.)
Although gender-bending by now can no longer be considered a groundbreaking device, this approach on paper would nevertheless appear to be at least somewhat ripe with possibility.

Even from within these masculine parameters, however, Timms has made some perplexing choices in song selection. For one, she maintains the Mekons' regrettable tradition of endlessly re-recording songs from their own back catalog. The most baffling example is yet another version of the Mekons' "Corporal Chalkie", a fine, ironic anti-war dirge to be sure, but one that just appeared in a virtually identical arrangement on the group's Punk Rock album earlier this year. Timms takes on Jon Langford's "Sentimental Marching Song" and the Mekons' "Bomb" also risk sounding overly familiar to her attentive fanbase, and their inclusion can't help but make In the World of Him feel rather uninventive and skimpy.

Elsewhere on the album, Timms covers a tasteful but eccentric collection of songwriters that includes Mark Eitzel, Johnny Dowd, and Kevin Coyne. In the process, she abandons virtually all traces of either the Mekons' pub-punk or her previous C&W leanings in favor of an icy minimalism rather reminiscent of Nico's The Marble Index (although Timms' crystalline vocal timbre couldn't be more different from Nico's guttural delivery). On Eitzel's "God's Eternal Love", Timms' angelic pipes are supported by little more than a smeary haze of electronic drone, while funhouse keyboards give Dowd's "139 Hernalser Gurtel" a woozy cabaret tilt. Perhaps her most effective performance, and the one where she most obviously improves upon the original, is a version of Ryan Adams' "Fools We Are as Men", which she sings in a beautiful, urgent hush accompanied only by acoustic guitar and accordion.

The adventurous cast of songwriters Timms has selected provide the album a wide depth of lyrical flavor. It's worth noting that none of these tracks specifically address love or sex, concentrating instead on spiritual self-doubt, vulnerability, and skewering lunkheaded militaristic machismo. Though several tracks here-- particularly her rendition of Coyne's "I'm Just a Man"-- do give the listener compelling, timely interpretations of the male psyche, one is unlikely to get a very broad or accurate view of contemporary manhood by studying the work of such iconoclastic lyricists. If In the World of Him is intended to be Timms' comprehensive portrait of modern men or what it's like to live among them, one can't help but wish she had taken a few more
adventurous risks within the extensive male songbook.

-Matthew Murphy, October 4th, 2004

From Pop Matters

Gender-bending is as old as performance, dating back long before Ray Davies wondered why Lola walked like a woman but talked like a man. On In a World of Him, longtime Mekons vocalist Sally Timms tries walking a mile in a man's shoes, covering nine songs written by men without changing the gender pronouns. As usual, her distinctly English take on Appalachian country via crunching, squealing post-punk will turn a few hipsters' ears, but even her unforgettable vocals can't keep this album from being a little disappointing.

For starters, the girl-singing-boy's-songs conceit isn't exactly novel. As recently as 2001, Tori Amos performed songs by Tom Waits, Neil Young, the Velvet Underground and Eminem for her Strange Little Girls album. Amos got the idea from Canadian singer/songwriter Emm Gryner, whose Girl Versions turned tunes by Blur, Fugazi, and the Clash into piano ballads. Besides, Timms herself doesn't bother to bring wholly new material to this outing; her version of "Corporal Chalkie" is almost identical to the one she sang on the Mekons' Punk Rock earlier this year. Yeah, it's an irresistibly corrosive tune, whoever sings it, but on an album with only nine tracks, it's hard to see why she'd duplicate a track her fans probably just bought a few months ago (for the record, the rawer Punk Rock version is better).

Amos's album exposed the brutal ways men treat women in song, while Gryner took a more lighthearted approach (she also did "Pour Some Sugar on Me"). Timms celebrates her subjects, imbuing them with mournful dignity. Hers would be the house band at an indie-rock wake somewhere in West Virginia. A bunch of Mekons would likely be there, and they show up on In the World of Him here, too: Jon Langford reprises the spoken word bit on "Corporal Chalkie", and the whole crew backs "Bomb", a cynical synth-laden take on the Mekons' nugget. Of course, that's probably because the version is almost the same as the one on the Mekons' United in 1995, which the band recycled again in a twangier version for 1999's I Have Been to Heaven and Back, Vol. 1. It's a great song, however they perform it, but it's as stale as video-store candy. Of course, Timms sings on all three recordings, and once again, the current version is the blandest.

She's a talented vocalist and interpreter, so the album is not without charm. Her cover of Ryan Adams's "Fools We Are as Men" has a world-weary soulfulness it's tough for anyone who's heard Rock N Roll to imagine Adams still possessing (prove me wrong, Ryan; prove me wrong). But overall, the disc feels depressingly gimmicky: an underwhelming entry in the catalogue of a singer who should know better.

— 16 September 2004

From Metrropulse

As a member of the Mekons, Sally Timms’ role seems pretty straightforward: sing. She doesn’t play any instruments or write any of the songs, yet somehow has become one of the group’s most integral parts.

On her first solo album in five years, she shows why that is. She’s a great interpreter of other people’s songs, something of a lost art in pop music.

Although her previous solo work had a country flavor to it, In The World of Him blends rock, folk and some mild experimentation. She covers work by the Mekons, Mark Eitzel, Johnny Dowd, and Ryan Adams, among others, but her voice and perspective shine through on each of them. As the title suggests, many of the songs are male views of women—Adams’ “Fools We Are As Men,” Dowd’s “139 Hermansler Gurtel,” and Coyne’s “I’m Just a Man.” Other songs protests against a male-dominated world, nightmare visions teeming with the nihilism at the heart of that world.

Perhaps most affecting tune of the bunch is the one Timms penned herself, “Little Tommy Tucker.” Based on the nursery rhyme, Timms turns it into an elegy of boys who will never become men: “go buy a piece of linen/ and make yourself a shroud/ to mourn those hands/ to mourn those hands/ you’ll never know/ bind weeds and daisy chains/ none shall be married.”

—Joe Tarr

From Groove in Norway

Ein grim verden

Sist gong Sally Timms gav ut plate i eige namn var tittelen Cowboy Sally's Twilight Laments For Lost Buckaroos (1999). Og på mange vis var det vel nett det det var. Varlegt gyngande små, triste, men også koselige sangar for skumringstimen. Country-assosiasjonane tittelen gjev, var og så avgjort tilstades, sjølv om tonane også tok diverse andre retningar. Andre retningar tek dei også på Sally sitt ferske framstøt In the World of Him, definitivt.

Nå har vel aldri Leeds-fødte Sally Timms hengt seg så nøye fast i ein bestemt sjanger. På sin platedebut frå 1980 var det eksperimentell lo-fi som gjaldt. Hangahar var prosjektet sitt namn, og vart gjort i samarbeid med Pete Shelley frå Buzzcocks. Mest kjent er nok likevel dama for sitt samarbeid med det heftige og mangslungne engelske
punkrock-bandet The Mekons, der ho har vore med å sunge sidan midten av 80-talet. Sally har opp igjennom åra lånt bort røysta si i diverse andre samanhengar også. Slik at album gitt ut i eige namn ikkje alltid har komme øverst på prioriterings-lista. In the World of Him er faktisk berre hennes fjerde full-lengdar.

Tittelen lyg ikkje. Dette er Sally i mannen sin verden. Ni sangar, åtte skrevne av menn og ein av Sally sjølv. Vi møter menn som prøver å forklare seg. Nokon ser, andre er blinde, men dei lever, syndar og kjempar, og nokon havnar heilt ute på tilværet si hutrande sidelinje. Det er ei mørk og dyster plate, der det er langt mellom dei optimistiske ytringane. Utvalgt til å stå ved produksjons-roret er den noko uvanleg samanskrudde amerikanaren Johnny Dowd, og han styrer ikkje akkurat musikken inn på tryggare stiar. Låtane gjer seg oftast til kjenne i eit avkledd og reinskore lydbilde, der skiftande og livgjevande elektroniske lydkjelder samt vitale slagverksrytmar er dei berande elementa. Saman med Sally si stemme naturligvis. For den er overalt her. Sensuell, intens, bestemt, nennsom og vakker. Av og til går tankane i retning Emmylou Harris sin Wrecking Ball, andre ganger er det Marianne Faitfull som ligg og lurar i bakhovudet, medan Nico sit på ei grå sky og nikkar tilfreds.

Dei fleste (for ikkje å sei alle) krigane opp igjennom historien er det menn som har fått istand. Då er det vel også rett og rimelig at krigen og dens dystre skuggar blir via ein del merksemd på eit slikt album. Begge dei to låtane ho har henta frå The Mekons sitt repertoar dveler ved krigsliknande tilstander. Den seige men rytmisk virile Corporal Chalkie, og den hastigare men like fullt suggerande Bomb. I sistnemnte syng Sally tankevekkjande linjer om uforstand, uskyld, ungdom og ødelegging; "forgive them, they are young and rich and white... lovely girls slip softly into ruin, boys of summer scattered all around". Krigen er også med i bildet på den 1.35 min. korte Dowd-komposisjonen 139 Hermansler Gurtel. Sjølv om denne spoken word/folk/cabaret affæren nok meir handlar om eksplosive lyster blant transseksuelle; "up uncle Norbert's skirt, the patriotic wind blows, stiffening his mighty sword". Mark Eitzel sin komposisjon God's Eternal Love er ein gnagande og avkledd ballade om overgrep gjort i staten og dei herskande sitt namn og dets mulige konsekvensar, uhyggelig aktuell; "Those you lock away will defeat you, they know all your secrets, they wear your indifference like a boast, and your death is only the key to their future, and your children are just pigs they will roast".

In the World of Him har sjølvsagt også sin dose med mann/kvinne-problem. Frå bonusavdelingen på Ryan Adams sitt Gold-album har ho henta Fools We Are As Men. Ei både sjølvmedlidande og sjølvforaktande bønn. Og så har ho funne fram ei gammal låt av eksentrikaren Kevin Coyne kalt I'm Just a Man. Melodien blir framførd i bortimot konvensjonell countryrock fasong, mens Sally med sofistikert kraft klarer å hente fram kvar einaste dråpe av sveitte, blod og kjærleik som er å finne i denne ærlige, audmjuke og nydelige teksten:

It's not that I want to hold you to ransom with foolish lies,
or lies, lies that tie you down
It's not that, it's not that I even want to marry you
Cause marrying you would mean that I'd have to chain you, not choose you,
Chain you, not choose you
I love you and that alone I want to say
And I've never wanted to say anything any other way, than that way
I am saying it now, this is the way I really feel
And if I sound a little confused, it's because I'm, ...oh, feeling for you
Can you understand?

Ho avsluttar så albumet med sin eigen Little Tommy Tucker, langsomt svevande på ei evig drone. Dermed er ein usminka og ganske variert seanse vel i havn. Og det gjer slett ingenting om du ikkje ventar like lenge til neste solo-framstøt, Sally.

- Oddmund Berge, 12.09.2004

From Newtimes:

From Pussy to penises, Sally Timms really covers all her bases. The English-born, Chicago-based performer has played the roles of musician, author, actor, and activist since joining the legendary Mekons in 1986. Pussy, the King of the Pirates was the Kathy Acker-inked lesbian opera that Timms starred in nine years ago; her latest exercise in gender-blurring is In the World of Him. Penned by an all-male stable of songwriters including Ryan Adams, Mark Eitzel, and the Mekons' Jon Langford, this disc channels the intimate and often unflattering confessions of men through Timms' squeaky, cerebral vocals. The result is appropriately ambiguous. Disembodied guitars and skeletal melodies float in and around her voice, though the lyrical sentiments -- war is homoerotic, men aren't in touch with their feelings, etc. -- verge more on cliché than mystery. As an album of eerie, throat-constricting songcraft, World works beautifully; as an art-rock treatise on sexual politics and masculine identity, it falls a little limp. -- Jason Heller


Original picture: Larry Sultan: Sharon Wild, 2001, from the series The Valley Chromogenic print

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