Live Review: Tim Carroll

The 5 Spot  Nashville, TN

Contact: [email protected]

Web: timcarroll.bandcamp.com

Players: Tim Carroll, vocals, guitar; Cullen Tierney, bass; Justin Amaral, drums

Material: If rock ‘n' roll ever died, the news never reached Tim Carroll. The singer-songwriter has been playing since the late '70s, when he first garnered attention with punk band The Gizmos. In the '80s, he joined roots rock act The Blue Chieftains before moving to Nashville in the '90s, whereupon Carroll received plaudits for his alt-country aesthetic. He’s released countless albums and had his songs featured on major motion picture soundtracks. Needless to say, he’s got piles of tunes which feature perpetually groovy, rip-snorting axe lines and sticky beats. Of all the musical influences one might guess at, Tom Petty seems to be the most obvious.

Musicianship: In terms of technical prowess, this trio is perpetually on point, especially impressive considering they played for two and a half hours straight. Maybe the fact they’re enjoying a years-long residency accounts for their abilities. Despite not having powerhouse vocals, Carroll’s voice feels familiar and cozy, like a warm pair of fuzzy house slippers on a Saturday morning.

Performance: Sans introduction, Carroll immediately dived into his set, pausing a half an hour in to quip, “By the way, this is our Christmas show. Every time we say ‘you,’ we mean ‘Santa Claus.’” At another point, he reminded the audience of the tip jar and then proceeded to play a song one might interpret as being about that topic. Most of the time, Carroll simply stated the title of the next tune before barreling forward. While he gave props to his backing players, the Indiana native never once introduced himself.

Summary: One cannot help but wonder why Carroll would be performing shows with no cover at this point in his career. Someone with such chops, discography and deftly crafted songs, it seems, should have accumulated a significant following that spends generously to hear him live. Perhaps the reason is that his sound, as fun as it may be, feels rooted in the past. Maybe a dash of the unexpected would help lift his star higher.