Tim Hardin’s story isn’t exactly a happy one, nor is it one you’ve really heard before. American songwriters always ring up your Dylans and Cashes, but sometimes the best songs come from the small pockets of American music history. Leaving the Earth in 1980, Hardin and his story is finally documented through the voices of artists who make today’s music culture just as exciting as Hardin’s heydey. Reason To Believe: The Songs of Tim Hardin feature some of today’s most interesting and talented artists, interpreting Hardin’s legacy one note at a time.
“Don’t Make Promises You Can’t Keep” by the Phoenix Foundation is given a Christmas-y treatment, with doubled up pianos, bells, lush chorus harmonies and everything needed to make Hardin’s melodies come alive for one more lonely night.
“Part of the Wind” by the Diagrams is the perfect example of what happens when you combine classic AM Gold with quirky, bloopy synths. It almost sounds like The Postal Service with a heavier, deeper lead vocal instead of Ben Gibbard’s soft, lulling tone.
Alela Diane delivers a spot-on intepretation of “How Can We Hang On To a Dream.” Diane’s country-folk style is half Dolly Parton, half Joan Baez. The light Spanish-style double picking, carefully placed cymbals and overall emotional provide the right balance of drama and ambiance. It would fit snuggly between a Nancy Sinatra and David Bowie track on the next Tarantino film.
Indie-folk favorite, Okkervil River give a delay-filled performance of “It’ll Never Happen Again.” This song sounds like Hardin could’ve written it specifically for Okkervil River, with it fitting perfectly on one of their releases in the past five years.
The reason folk music can take on so many forms is because of the basic/traditional instrumentation and solid songwriting aesthetic. It can be filtered throught the beefiest synths and sung by the burliest or scrawniest of men. Hardin certainly made his mark by writing simple, yet stunning melodies, translating perfectly through many decades. The various artists who got together to channel Hardin certainly did him justice, even if the world is still fairly unfamiliar with his work. You need a reason to believe? Well, this album has 13 of them.