By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio
Tim Jackson | Better Late than Never (2018)
The thing you need to understand about Tim Jackson, whose debut album is one of the finest first musical volleys in recent memory, is that his record collection is likely pretty similar to the one that has overtaken your living room, den, and/or storage bin.
If you’re a fan of pure pop music from the likes of Andrew Gold, Ben Folds, Gilbert O’Sullivan, Michael Penn, Elton John, Looking Glass, Todd Rundgren, 10cc, Supertramp, Billy Joel, and Bruce Hornsby, you’ll feel right at home spinning Jackson’s songs.
You know that feeling you get when you hear a pure popian tune and your first impossible-to-resist urge is to sing along before you even hear the first chorus?
Yeah, that feeling. Tim Jackson’s got the goods.
Let’s dig in. There is a lot to unpack, story-wise, in the quite catchy, uptempo, hit-bound-in-a-perfect-world title track about a musician’s station in life at various points along his climb up the ladder of success. “We got married and I took a job/Then the band broke up and the dream was gone/We had kids and settled down forever/But now I’m back, it’s better late than never,” Jackson sings atop his percussive keyboard (dig the Andrew Gold-y piano break).
Jackson sinks deep into a contagious seventies groove, powered by a Looking Glass kind of electric piano part which, in the very beginning, recalls Elton John’s “The Bitch is Back”, in the uptempo, horn-fueled “Black Dog” (no, not that “Black Dog”). This toe-tapping nugget, about that thing that tugs at your soul and how you can escape it and break through the clouds, is one of this album’s top keepers.
Influences of varying stripes inhabit the gorgeous mid-tempo ballad “What Lies Ahead,” this album’s penultimate song, about safe, forever love that knows no boundaries. A beautiful chord structure and a lovely melody fuel this instant classic that everyone can relate to (“Cause I won’t let you down/And you will lift me up/When I fall behind/Or you’re feeling out of luck/There’s no need to explain/Or ever hide again/I’ll take away your pain/And then/Who knows what lies ahead”). It’s the story of true love that is always true.
Recorded mostly at home with friends such as Iain Hornal from Jeff Lynne’s ELO, with Jackson playing the keys and singing, Better Late than Never is the kind of classic, pure pop kind of record that fans of instantly lovable melodic pop are drawn to as a matter of course. It is a complete and utter joy all the way through.
Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio is the premiere website covering the melodic pop scene with in-depth reviews of new and reissued recordings, and a wide variety of features. We’ve been around since the first weekly Pure Pop Radio shows, which began broadcasting in 1995, and the 24-hour Pure Pop Radio station, which ended last August.
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