Tim Larson and The Owner/Operators – A New Deal

January 01, 1970





Larson and company boast a moniker that might suggest
they’re successful entrepreneurs, but with A
New Deal
, this ex member of the Irish insurgent outfit the Drovers lays the
blame for much of today’s malaise on big business gone bad. This, his second
proper solo effort, puts the focus on those who have fallen victim to
downsizing, foreclosure and the steady stream of workingman woes that have
befallen America’s
middle class. Consequently, Larson opts for a consistently downcast delivery,
whether through relentless rumination or an unsettled underbelly, and his dark
pronouncements make even Nick
Cave – a frequent touchstone
here – sound positively giddy by comparison.


Still, certain truths can’t be sugarcoated, and upbeat
enthusiasm would seem decidedly out of sync given these desperate scenarios.
Whether describing folks who have been forced from their homes (“Own to Rent,” “Gethsemane”),
the ravaged lives of blue collar workers (“A New Deal,” “Merit Worker”) or more
sordid subjects like venturing out with vampires (“Nosferatu Styrofoam”),
Larson’s dire delivery extends an uncertain tone throughout.  “If you want to know sadness, stand outside my
door step… Every day could be the last one,” he intones on “3 Corners.” “Sin City”
evokes the memory of a pair of country outlaw sweethearts (“You could be like
Jesse, I could be like Waylon to you…”), but the dirge-like demeanor leaves
little room for levity. A New Deal is
etched with a rugged sense of loss and lament, but its tangled observations
manage to resonate regardless.


to Rent,” “3 Corners” LEE ZIMMERMAN

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