Timothy, Revelator "Beneath the Bleeding Moon: Lost Gospel Vol. 1"
Timothy, Revelator (aka Timothy Renner) has become one of my absolute favorite artists over the past year. His music is often transcendent. Of all his projects, though, his solo material is what I look forward to most. Operating out of Glenville, Pennsylvania, his baritone voice is his trademark. As of late, his extensive use of banjo has been impressive and drawn me even more to his music. His new project, Moth Masque, made an impressive debut using nothing but a banjo as instrumentation. The first installment of his new "Lost Gospel" series is similar in approach, though bowed dulcimer is added on a few tracks. The over all effect, however, is even more memorable.
"Lost Gospel Music Vol. 1" reminds me a great deal of old, obscure folk records from the '60s. It's stripped down approach might not appeal to everyone, but this is like the music I grew up hearing on my dad's stereo. It's simple in that it's mostly just banjo and vocals. But the deeper meanings and emotions of the songs are what make it truly great.
Timothy's music usually has a spiritual bend to it. But this is not your standard "praise & worship" music - it's anything but. "Lost Gospel Music Vol. 1" gets at the true spiritual soul that many people seem to forget or overlook in their religious conquests. I'm not a religious person at all, but this music certainly moves me. Renner, at times, seems to be channelling lost spirits, true spirits, that speak of a greater, collective conscious. What is most striking is is how his voice draws you in. It's soothing and hypnotic at the same time. It's like a shadow you can never quite escape. I swear, I could listen to his voice all day and night.
Lyrics for four of these songs come from Robert Crenshaw and were written in the 1600s. It's remarkable that Renner dug these up and transformed them into modern gems. Because of their historical leanings, the stripped down approach makes even more sense. the other seven songs were written by Timothy himself. The combination is impressive, and it's generally hard to discern who wrote what.
My two favorite tracks are "Blessed of the Holy Trees" and "The Weeping Eye of God." Both have distinct feels to them, but together are the total emobodiment of "Lost Gospel Vol. 1." The former song is one of the more upbeat tracks on the album. It's foot-tapping rhythm gives way to enchanting lyrics. "We cannot step beyond these leaves that have fallen on the ground, you see," it begins. Renner encapsulates a feeling of grandeur in his words. It's like this ode to Mother Nature and a recognition that there is a soul in all living things. "Wood-wise by word and by deed: Blessed of the Holy Trees," it ends. It may not seem like much, but there's a great deal of power in Renner's words. And the simple banjo lines do nothing to obscure the greater message. This is great stuff.
"The Weeping Eye of God" opens the album and provides a stark contrast to "Blessed of the Holy Trees." Comprised predominantly of bowed banjo and dulcimer, "The Weeping Eye of God" is engrained with sadness from the beginning. "The beginning and the end. The beginning of the end," Renner bellows. Over the moaning acoustic instruments, the words are enhanced. This track is almost spooky, but there's an underlying clarity in it that ends up overtaking the entire feel of the song. It's excellent in every way.
Once again, Timothy, Revelator has outdone himself. "Beneath the Bleeding Moon: Lost Gospel Music Vol. 1" is one of the finest releases this year and is one the absolute best albums Renner has been a part of. I don't care if you consider yourself religious or spiritual or nothing at all, this is music that will speak to anyone. In a time when people are always look for something "real," you will find no one more authentic than Timothy, Revelator. 8/10 -- Brad Rose (25 May, 2005)