Tim Van Eyken, Stiff Lovers Holymen Thieves

Chris Nickson

By Chris Nickson

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
Longtime Waterson:Carthy sideman goes it alone.

The solo debut from Tim Van Eyken makes you wonder why he was content to be a sideman for so long. He sets his stall out early by taking on "Barleycorn," a song already covered by too many people, and bringing an illuminating freshness to it, based around an electric guitar figure and his own slightly fragile, but appealing voice. While plenty of the material hews close to the tried-and-true, especially on the instrumentals, he's happy to take chances at times — "Fair Ellen of Ratcliffe" works as he adds touches of dub and folk rock as atmospheric ornamentation to an intense song, but "Babes in the Wood" and "Twelve Joys of Mary" end up trying too hard to be different and "interesting." That aside, Van Eyken has made a stunning start, and a successful leap from sideman to artist.