Magic Trick’s leader, Tim Cohen (also frontman of The Fresh and Onlys), is a man who relishes in the sounds bygone times; the ’60s through the ’80s to be precise. He and his group of revolving guest musicians revert back to eras when communes engaged in informal singalongs, and the spirit of being free and young was spreading to make the world forget its political problems and social tensions. Each song sets a nostalgic mood that would have little business on modern radio, and that’s okay.
With its pastiche of older genres which include pop (’80s style), country and jam band-inspired tunes, Other Man’s Blues begins with a trip back in the form of a slightly prog-rock sounding song called “More.” The track opens with a mystical “peyote trip in the desert” vibe which gives way to a sound which wouldn’t seem out of place on a Jethro Tull record. That is, without the pretension. The track’s haunting female harmonies and background vocals are used throughout the record to full effect.
Though there is much stylistic distance between songs, Cohen’s vocals are the defining constant. His sincere and seemingly unconscious delivery have an almost innocent quality. It is as laid back and convincing on the twee sounding “Forest of Kates” as it is on the Grateful Deadish “First Thought.” Fans of mid-eighties British pop will likely find appeal in “Mockingbirds.” And the upbeat Motown rhythm of “Startling Chimes” puts the record in yet another perspective. Adding to the diverse sounds are Cohen’s self-reflecting lyrics which appear to stem from the person he once was and the person he is now.
It’s probably safe to say that Magic Trick weren’t setting out to find mainstream commercial success with Other Man’s Blues. Rather, the record plays like an informal session with talented friends which resulted in a cool grab bag of likely destined-to-be overlooked recordings. This is the kind of record that makes an interesting novelty to own in addition to the artist’s better known material.
Top Tracks: “Forest of Kates,” “Startling Chimes”
Magic Trick/ Other Man’s Blues / Empty Cellar Records / 10 Tracks