Review Summary: Tim Armstrong delivers a solo album that only Tim Armstrong could love. And maybe a die hard or two that has never heard of The Clash, Sublime, or The Specials. Where oh where is Lars Frederiksen when we really need him....
The Clash are alive and well in 2007, or at least regurgitated add infinitum courtesy one Tim Armstrong. Whether Tim fancies himself the poet of his debut solo album's title, A Poet's Life
, or simply aligns himself with the like, one thing is for sure. And that is this album could use some good 'ol fashion punk rock to liven things up a bit. Poet's, ska, reggae, and steel drums be damned...
Sounding something like Rancid's Life Won't Wait
album without the, well, Rancid, A Poet's Life sounds like a snoozy boat ride along some far off Jamaican coast line. And a repetitive boat ride, at that. Reggae and its sub genres have always been easy going fare for the most part, so it helps if you can inject some soul, color, and diversity into the mix over an entire album. Especially if you're a Bay area white boy and not Bob Marley. Or even Joe Strummer, for that matter.
Unfortunately on A Poet's Life Mr. Armstrong shows not much soul or color, which would help this somewhat bland collection of listless songs and performances lift itself above the mundane to something a bit more spirited and lively. Cuts like the opening Wake Up
and Hold On
may seek to set the tone for a funky, low key affair. But the songs themselves sound too much like Rancid leftovers better left on the cutting room floor then anything fresh or surprising as one might expect from an artist as vibrant as Armstrong on his maiden solo outing. If their was more to this album I would happily tell you. But to say tracks like Translator
, Among The Dead
, and Lady Demeter
, etc, follow the same dreary path for the entire recording is quite enough. Void of any character, originality, and surprisingly any energy, this is great music to nap by. The sole exception to this rule is the fun and irreverent Into Action
that can get even a boring old fart like myself shaking my tail feathers on a dancehall floor. But one exception does not make an album, and this album is no more the better for this all too brief shining moment.
If you are a fan of Rancid you have heard this all before, although not nearly this weak. Tim Armstrong sans band comes up too soft far too often on A Poet's Life, and the album has a sense of sameness and repetition that a little Ruby Soho
, Who Would've Thought
, or even Arrested In Shanghai
style numbers would have fixed up just fine. But unfortunately what we get instead are a handful of formulaic, lackluster ska tunes which make Armstrong sound like he has taken up the ganja and grown out some lazy dreads. And that's a shame for an artist who has done this music very well in the past and usually has the chops to prove it. Not so on A Poet's Life, however, and we're just left wondering where all the passion must have gone? Oh what I wouldn't give for an "oi oi oi" right about now....