Boy & Bear’s Tim Hart left no stone unturned on his third solo album, and the result is a majestic burst of folk rock charm that fills the room: ‘Winning Hand’ is an aptly titled record of raw emotion, movement, change, and our never-ending journeys.
Stream: ‘Winning Hand’ – Tim Hart
Tim Hart left no stone unturned on his third solo album, and the result is a majestic burst of folk rock charm that fills the room with light, warmth, and an intangible effervescent allure. The Boy & Bear drummer soars through visceral highs and stirring lows on Winning Hand, an aptly titled record of raw emotion, movement, change, and our never-ending journeys.
It surrounds me
Like a cloud of gold dust in the haze
I’m back in Sydney
Where the world makes much more sense today
Steady as she goes
Time it is a diamond
Its size and shape unknown to me
I’m back here on my island
Where Joe told us that we should be
Steady as she goes
Out February 19, 2021 via Nettwerk Music Group, Winning Hand is the expansive and enveloping third solo LP from #1 selling Australian band Boy & Bear’s Tim Hart. The follow-up to 2018’s intimate sophomore record The Narrow Corner, Winning Hand feels like a fresh release: Mature and tender, soulful and expressive, Hart basks in pools of sweeping guitars and driving drums, buoyant trumpets and assorted string and brass accompaniment that elevate his dazzling songs to new levels of musical and self-expression.
Nevertheless, at the heart of every Tim Hart tune is an honest singer/songwriter. “Most of this album was written on the road,” Hart tells Atwood Magazine. “So I guess in a way it’s a bit of a diary. There are stories of people I met whilst traveling and there is a bunch of personal self-reflection. There’s a lot of time to think while touring, so it’s a great time to write.
Hart is no stranger to the touring life: A founding member of Boy & Bear, he has traveled the world numerous times in support of his band’s albums – all four of which have hit Australia’s top ten charts, and two of which – 2013’s Harlequin Dream and 2015’s Limit of Love – reached that coveted No. 1 spot. Few folk and rock bands have enjoyed the kind of success Boy & Bear have seen in the past decade; their latest album, Suck on Light, released in 2019 and shot to No. 7 on the ARIA charts. In a feature published around release time, Atwood Magazine praised the record as “a vibrant folk-rock journey inspired by hope and possibility… Suck on Light finds Boy & Bear exhibiting an impressive level of maturity in their music and lyrics: Each song feels intricate yet deceptively simple, with accessible takeaways for even the most casual listener built atop deeper layers of emotion and intent.”
Whereas Boy & Bear’s frontman Dave Hosking wrote and took ownership over much of Suck on Light‘s storyline and concept, Winning Hand belongs unequivocally to Tim Hart – as well as the sundry instrumentalists and friends who lent their talents to each of these special songs.
“At my end it feels quite different,” Hart says, speaking about how he distinguishes his solo material from his music in Boy & Bear. “For a start there, is a great freedom to my solo music. I try to leave it very spontaneous in the studio and be open to changes or any weird ideas. The band is like this to an extent but with five voices so the process is very different. I also think I’m able to cover a lot of ground with stripped down songs and then more complex arrangements like the song ‘Turn to Salt’. I’m not sure how it all sounds to listeners, but it feels different.”
For his third solo effort, Hart went into the studio with an open mind and an ambitious sense of determination: “My vision was to leave no stone unturned in recording the album I felt was there. If I wanted strings in, I got string players, if I wanted horns, I got horn players. I tried to cut no corners. At the same time I tried to let go of control. So I got a band in to play with me so it would feel live, and I would get some different approaches. I loved this.”
Thus was born Winning Hand, a record that makes no assumptions as rises gracious and gently falls through eleven wondrous worlds of sound and color.
Hart invites his listeners to bask in great soundscapes brimming with texture, feeling, and sentiment: It’s his very own “Winning Hand,” the best of what he’s got to offer.
“Winning Hand is the concept of realising the great things in my own life and being satisfied,” Hart says of the album title. “Not always being envious of others. I think this record is a bit of a tapestry of the musical journey I’ve been on so I hope it shows people an honest vision of where my life is up to. I always love to write stories and have melodic, interesting recordings. I hope I achieved this.”
If Winning Hand is an achievement – and this writer would argue it is – then Hart owes much of that to his own creative, artistic comeuppance. “I think I have found my identity as a solo artist especially over the last few years. Part of that has been letting go of playing all the instruments and letting myself be the singer/songwriter context. I’m feeling happier with the music I write and record and more able to enjoy the process or writing and recording without constantly second guessing myself.”
As far as the record itself is concerned, Winning Hand starts strong with the rollicking “Steady as She Goes,” and ends an electric 48 minutes later with the cathartic grace of closer “Winning Hand.” Hart cites the opener, his smoldering second track “Atlanta,” and “Turn to Salt” as his own personal highlights. “They probably cover a lot of ground in terms of the music I love and aspire to make,” he notes.
Whether it’s in stripped-down moments of solitude or sublime celebrations of sonic wonder, sobering self-reflections on life’s change or unfiltered embraces of life’s joy and beauty in-the-moment, Winning Hand is Tim Hart’s winning hand. Hands down: The artist has come into his own with a distinct, expressive voice wholly separate from Boy & Bear. Hart’s work is enchanting, comforting, and moving: He welcomes all to join him on a definitively intimate, yet universally relatable journey through life’s ups and downs.
“I think I’d be a very happy man if people enjoy the record and it helps them to feel happy and satisfied in themselves,” Hart shares. “For me I’ve taken a lot of enjoyment and confidence out of creating this record. I’m very proud of it and I’m looking forward to touring it, if we’re ever allowed to.”
Until the world opens up again, we can breathe in the light of Tim Hart’s Winning Hand.
Experience the full record via our exclusive stream, and peek inside Tim Hart’s Winning Hand with Atwood Magazine as the singer/songwriter goes track-by-track through the music and lyrics of his third LP!
Winning Hand is out February 19, 2021.
Stream: ‘Winning Hand’ – Tim Hart
:: Inside Winning Hand ::
Steady As She Goes
This song was written about what home looks like to me. It’s about the peace and freedom that comes with embracing our own humanity and imperfection and our own hometown.
Atlanta is about the effect fear, time and distance can have on us. It was originally written about a lady I met. She was the bar manager of a venue I played on the Coromandel coast in NZ. We were sitting around a campfire, and she was talking about her regrets and how she wanted to put some things right. The song came from there and is intertwined with my own experiences.
Cold Comfort is a love story gone wrong. It’s angry and toxic and bitter. It’s all about the emotion in the heat of things going wrong. Maybe in a way it’s the antithesis to the love song. It’s raw and honest and dark and brooding.
This song is a reflection on an old relationship and all the questions that are left over when things don’t work out. It’s about letting go of any bitterness from the past and wishing good things for that person in the future, but never knowing.
Turn to Salt
I wrote Turn to Salt while on tour in Europe. We had a night off in Venice, and I was wandering through the streets and canals just as the sun was going down. The water was the colour of silver. It was cold. People were coming in and out of bars and restaurants, and I was immersed in the feel of the place and it felt easy and right. So I wrote this song essentially about feeling free and knowing that you’re in the right place whether that be in the context of love, life or lifestyle.
From time to time I think we all look at others and think that they have their lives sorted, while our own lives seem messy. This song was written when I was in that place looking at people around me and wondering about the value of the “right decisions”. It’s a little bit existential, a little bit religious and a little bit lost.
This is a song about loss and what that does to the ones that are left behind. I wrote this song while on tour in Holland. It was written for a very close friend of mine who had just lost his father. I wasn’t there to be with him and although it’s not something I’ve done much before, I wrote and sent this to him.
Ace Of Hearts
Again I was thinking about family and choices and the way life plays out being a combination of fate and decision. I spent most of my teens and part of my adolescent life trying to prove how different I was to the generation that came before me. Slowly I realised that this was ridiculous. We’re all humans and so subject to the human condition. It’s a song about fathers and lovers and brothers.
See You Soon
When I was in my late teens, I was close to a girl who lived in my neighbourhood. We never dated but I thought I was in love with her. But she was certainly not in love with me. It seemed to me that she would just make bad decisions after bad decisions and always be terribly hurt by the guys that she chose. Later on in life she came to me and said she wished things had been different with her and I, and said that I was the only one that ever cared for her. My feelings were long gone, and I was living another life. But sometimes I still think about her and wonder about it. This song is young love and the power it has over us.
Winning Hand is a stream of consciousness song that I wrote over a couple of months. Some of it was written in Paris, some in Wellington, and some on the tour bus in the states. It’s about faith and belief and how that shapes the way we see the world. It’s about realising when we have a good thing and being thankful for it
Wild White Tiger
This song is about the effect depression and disappointment can have on us. It’s about lies, deception, shame, apathy, loss of will. I’d like to think it’s about the belief that all of those things can be overcome step by step.
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📸 © Jon Hart
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