Tim Easton is a combination Bob Dylan and Paul Simon, with a backing country-rock band. The industry tags him alt-country. Comparisons to Ryan Adams aren’t unwarranted either.

The majority of Break Your Mother’s Heart’s 10 tracks are centered around Easton’s acoustic guitar (though he does pick up an electric), and more often than not a bass, piano or organ help him out.

The parallels to Dylan and Simon are in the voice. Easton sings in the back of his throat, emphasizing the graininess of Dylan’s vocals. His melodies are reminiscent of Simon and Garfunkel and early Simon solo work.

Easton proves capable of writing in a number of styles. “Hanging Tree” is a simple guitar song, while “Lexington Jail” is heavily blues influenced. The three lead-off tracks drip with pop intonations. Here Easton’s vocals are superb and, while the lyrical content is at times absurd (“John Gilmartin was a strong man / ’til he fell down the stairs / and got his Workman’s Comp”), the guitar work and catchy melodies overcome the weaknesses of the album.

After a poppy, rocking start, the album progressively leans toward country, showing Easton’s true influences. Unfortunately, what was so successful at the beginning becomes lost in the repetition of the later, much slower tracks. The lyrics aren’t interesting or powerful enough to keep one’s ear perked and the second half of the album becomes background music. Easton may have been more successful had he put out an EP highlighting the bright moments of what became Break Your Mother’s Heart.

Rating: 3 Stars

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