A Quiet Evil
LeE HARVeY OsMOND – a band not a person – is the latest project from Canadian brother and sister Michael and Margo Timmins of Cowboy Junkies fame, and this album suggests this is a proper band, not just a vanity project. Tom Wilson (formerly of Junkhouse) is the prime mover, singing and co-writing most of the songs. The album has a distinctive ‘feel’ throughout, set by Wilson’s deep singing voice, adopting a whispering, conspiratorial tone on many of the songs.
Wilson’s lyrics weave opaque pictures, so it’s not immediately clear what some of the songs are about. The second track, “Cuckoo’s Nest”, namechecks Elvis, Sonny Liston, Madonna and Robert Mitchum, and has a smoky, late night jazz feel to it, setting the scene musically for much of what is to come.
“I’m Going To Stay That Way” is more straightforward, with Wilson singing the first verse alone, verse two sung by Margo Timmins, verse three by them both together. It’s a delightfully simple structure that works really well, and makes you wish they’d tried something similar on more of the songs. “Parkland” by Scott Garbe is about the shooting of John F.Kennedy, written from the viewpoint of someone working in the hospital to which he was brought.
The most straightforward songs on the album are both cover versions. “Lucifer’s Blues”, a song by David Wiffen. tells a story of taking a ride with the devil, trying to reach home and the protection of his girl who’s waiting for him.
The album closer is a decent version of Lou Reed’s “I Can’t Stand It”. Unfortunately for LeE HARVeY OsMOND, the original Velvet Underground version, even 40 years after it was recorded, and despite the primitive production, is still sublime. Even Lou Reed couldn’t recapture it when he re-recorded the song himself for his first solo album. This is a simple story about living in a rundown apartment (It’s hard being a man living in a garbage pail) after his girlfriend has left him (If Shelley would just come back, It’d be alright), with driving guitar and a melodic hook.
Michael Timmins produced the album but only contributes one of the songs, and shares lead guitar duties with Wilson. Margo Timmins gets to share lead vocals on just one song. This is the debut release from LeE HARVeY OsMOND and they’re promoting it by supporting the Cowboy Junkies on their U.S. tour.