been seven years since TIMOTHY B.
SCHMIT released his last album. The standard opening question is: “Why
did it take so long?”
standard SCHMIT answer to most
questions is funny in a self-deprecating way and rooted in simple truths. So of
course he answers, “I wasn’t ready until now!”
is a virtue. And with a career that unfolds back to the halcyon 1960s, patience
has served this storied artist well. He was in his teens when he charted for
the first time. At the turn of the
decade he joined POCO and helped steer the band into its pioneering fusions of
country, rock and folk. In 1977 he became a member of the legendary EAGLES, an association that would
continue on and off for decades.
the same time, SCHMIT also
collaborated with other artists. His talents enhanced Toto’s “Africa,” Richard Marx’s “Don’t Mean Nothin’,” Bob Seger’s “Fire
Lake,” Crosby Stills and Nash’s “Wasted
On The Way” and multiple tracks by Steely Dan. He’s played internationally as a member of Jimmy Buffett’s Coral Reefer Band and Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band.
the while SCHMIT absorbed what he
played and heard, weaving it strand by strand into his musical fabric. Now and
then he stepped out with a solo album. The most recent, Expando, dropped
in 2009 and triggered praise from Allmusic.com (“his
strongest-ever collection of songs, songs that are tuneful, knowing, reflective
and occasionally funny”), BBC
(“satisfyingly complete”) and other cultural arbiters.
Then, with patience, he settled back into his
busy routine, appearing on recordings with artists as diverse as Wynonna Judd, Diana Krall and The Blind Boys of Alabama. But he also
kept listening, writing, filing ideas and edging closer to his next individual
Illuminated by an array of fine musicians and
singers, LEAP OF FAITH--a strong mix of rock, country, Americana, R&B and
even a bit of reggae--plays
like a multicolored corona around
SCHMIT’s distinctive artistry. From the jaunty opening track “My Hat” to the soaring harmonies and
heartfelt reflections of “This
Waltz,” this is more than another album in a great artist’s catalog. It is a milestone effort, looking
back at all that brought him to where he stands today and ahead to a future
full of both mystery and promise.
LEAP OF FAITH marks the
culmination of SCHMIT’s unhurried,
yet inspired reflections of life. On his new album,he goes further up
the path he began to explore on Expando. “Again, I wanted to write this album on my
own,” he says “In any collaboration one
has to make a series of compromises. That’s not a bad thing, it’s simply not
what I’ve chosen to do with this project. I’m just putting it out there, and
maybe some of these ideas might resonate with listeners.”
writing and recording between touring with the EAGLES, this project took a little time, so the songs on LEAP OF FAITH have a broad
compass. “Slow Down” is a note to
self on escaping life’s pressures coasting along on a reggae pulse sweetened by
jazz giant Gary Burton’s vibraphone.
“What Should I Do,” has a Muscle Shoals feel; steamy, funky, and sensual.
On “Goodbye, My Love,” he takes us
deep down into traditional country, with Paul
Franklin’s glistening steel guitar layered over the changes.And on “It’s Alright,” his most intimate song,
SCHMIT needs only his own acoustic
guitar to express profound love.
all their diversity, these songs are bound by a candor and craftsmanship that
are rare in today’s music. SCHMIT
says, “I don’t feel confined by any outside perceptions about what I do. I just
try to pull songs out of the ethers and shape them as they come, whatever the
genre.” LEAP OF FAITH is
co-produced by TIMOTHY and
multi-talented friend Hank Linderman.
“I hired Hank Lindermanquite a few years ago to help me learn how to maneuver through my
then new demo studio. But as the studio grew I eventually chose to concentrate
on my craft, so I put him in charge of the technical part, among other things. He is an excellent engineer,
musician and singer.” Linderman has
also worked both on the EAGLES’ last
studio album, as well as Don Henley’s
recent solo project. Hank is
essential to howLEAP OF FAITHsounds
and feels. “For instance, on ‘My Hat,’
I told him I wanted him to play the solo, but to do so in a very simple manner.
He ended up playing something I would never have dreamed of, and yes, it’s
simple and beautiful.”
“Over the last ten years or so, I’ve felt like I’m
finally getting the hang what it is I do best,” SCHMIT sums up with his knack for wry understatement. “Although
this project took some time to complete, this is what I came up with … This is
who I am. This is a LEAP OF FAITH.”
pays off: LEAP OF FAITH is
well worth the wait.
Timothy B. Schmit: New Solo Album ‘Leap Of Faith’ Out Today, 9/23 Via Benowen Records; Listen To The Full Album Now On Rolling Stone Country