Various - Reason To Believe: The Songs Of Tim Hardin

A worthy, if overtly reverent, addition to the steady stream of Hardin covers.

Label: Full Time Hobby

Rating: 6

If Tim Hardin had the foresight to become a wilfully obscure avant-garde musical auteur rather than succumbing to his heroin addiction in 1980, we might be hailing the Oregon-born singer/songwriter as a beacon of artistic brilliance rather than belatedly attempting to draw attention to his mastery of the song craft through tribute albums thirty-odd years later.

But perhaps a tribute album is most appropriate for Hardin; the man was prolifically interpreted by other musicians even during his under-appreciated lifetime. Nico, Rod Stewart, The Carpenters and, yes, Scott Walker, all adapted Hardin’s graceful, gentle songs, sculpting them in to commercially viable propositions, something Hardin was never really able to achieve.

‘Reasons To Believe’ is a worthy, if overtly reverent, addition to the steady stream of Hardin covers. Worthy because the songs are wonderful, stately evocations of dignified guilt. Hardin’s voice made you believe his lies and this dichotomy is the heartbeat of his work. But some of these covers are overtly reverent because they fail to acknowledge this schism in the dark soul of the man.

Alela Diane nails the desperation of ‘How Can We Hang On To A Dream’ with her sparse, airy interpretation. The Sand Band take on the title track with haunting slide guitars underpinned by an eerie sitar drone which lingers in a long, affecting coda. But Mark Lanegan surprisingly fails to step up to the plate with a simple version of ‘Red Balloon’ which sounds phoned-in, at best and Smoke Fairies ‘If I Were A Carpenter’ is languid, lurching and ultimately lethargic.

Buy, hey, any collection that brings Hardin to the masses has to be welcomed and this collection offers at least a handful of reasons to truly believe.