Back In Your Arms

Tim Hockenberry's much anticipated debut CD is a masterfully crafted opportunity to display his multi-talents as songwriter, musician and vocalist. Each song comes to life through Tim's emotionally raw, always honest delivery, whether its new material he's been honing onstage for the past year or brilliant adaptations of the finest songs of our generation.

The CD opens with "This Time By Me," a declaration of love that both illustrates Tim's unique voice and piano style and also sets the tone of the CD. The voice has the soul of Ray Charles and the gruff staccato pleading of Joe Cocker. The songs on this CD speak of a man in the throes of love - the desire for it and the realization or loss of it. Hockenberry is everyman tormented by love and we easily connect with his characters like the poor guy in '"Howlin' at Your Window," the Dylan classic of unrequited love or lovers who struggle to connect in "Love Me Now" and the vanishing love of "Should Have Been Love."

Hockenberry is working out our collective relationship angst through the beautiful imagery of "Surfacing" and the hopefulness of "She Tried To Be." Hockenberry has his hand in co-writing on three tunes here, songs that either tenderly touch the soul ('Love Me Now') or gather speed and thunder into an open heart ("100 MPH").

Hockenberry has long been performing covers by great songwriters like Randy Newman, Elton John and Tom Waits and on this CD he takes care to include the title track, a rousing live version of Springsteen's "Back in Your Arms," John Lennon's "Girl" about loving with misgivings, and a remarkable rendition of Tony Bennet's signature song "I Left My Heart in San Francisco." He's also adept at choosing the best material from lesser known artists like one of the CD's greatest achievements, "Make Me Understand," written by Tim's friend Richard Leiter, a four-tissue weeper that breaks the fragile heart. In Hockenberry's plaintive offering we understand hurt and pain - knowing that every heart mends and the therapy is in acknowledging the struggles.

The power and drive of Hockenberrry's voice propels this CD forward, backed by the exceptional musicians he attracts and some fine engineering. For those of us who feel deeply and love hard, Back In Your Arms is a like a warm security blanket. Let it cover you and provide solace. Years from now, and CD's down the road, this debut will be seen as a seminal work by one of the truly gifted artists of our generation.

Steve Murray
Cabaret Scenes
September 2008