During a short hiatus from the Dave Matthews Band, famed violinist Boyd Tinsley has put together an evocative new solo album, True Reflections. Surprisingly, Tinsley's skills as a violinist take second place to his raw, emotive vocals, as he demonstrates a new side of his musicality to audiences. However, his introspective lyrics leave much to be desired as the album is filled with love song after love song. His writing lacks originality, but his haunting vocals and the peaceful, folk-like instrumentation create a tranquil, pleasing album nonetheless.
The album, a Bama Rags/RCA release, also boasts an impressive collection of musical guests, including The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Dave Matthews and Toshi Reagan, who add to the album's soulful, distinct style. Tinsley also offers a powerfully tender rendition of Neil Young's "Cinnamon Girl"--possibly the most impressive song on the album. A few of the more memorable songs include "Show Me," with beautifully harmonized back-up vocals, and a raw bluesy feel, "A Long Time to Wait," in which Tinsley's brooding voice whispers over light instrumental support, and the title track, "True Reflections," which, of all of the songs, contains the most insightful, original lyrics. "Perfect World," however, while it contains a powerful anti-war message, does not impress musically, nor do some of Tinsley's more clich‚d love songs.
On the whole, Tinsley has demonstrated his ability to take on a number of musical roles, and provided his audience with an album that contains a great deal of talent and evocative, heartfelt lyrics. His voice shows surprising strength, yet speaks to vulnerability. Still, his songwriting skills come up short. Essentially, Tinsley has taken lyrics that seem to belong to old-fashioned love songs, and turned them into a diverse, well-performed album that, though beautiful in it's tranquil musicality, does not necessarily stand out.