Tam Lin
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Tam Lin

New York City, New York, United States

New York City, New York, United States
Band Folk Singer/Songwriter

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October 11th, 2006
by Dan D'Ippolito

Whilst wandering through the woods of Brooklyn last night I was greeted by a fairy king named Tam Lin, whose delightful sounds, much like those of the Sirens on my famed Grecian trek, entranced me into profound contentment. Actually, Tam Lin is really just a remarkable songwriter named Paul who plays the Songwriter Showcase on October 11.

Every now and again a musician is preceded by his reputation. Before I ever heard Tam Lin's (aka Paul Weinfield’s) songs, I’d already overheard his praises sung in several conversations, and as you know, being devoted readers of the Jezeblog, Ben Krieger wrote about Tam Lin earlier this week. In my search for fault in this mass appreciation, I came up empty handed.

Describing Tam Lin’s sound and deciphering Paul's influences is hard, which is good. The music is distinguishable yet non-categorical; instrumentally simplistic and straightforward yet expertly arranged; melodic and easy to listen to yet outstanding in form. Although Paul’s songs are stylistically similar to standard laid back folk-infused songwriting, the intricacies and uniqueness of his compositions stand alone as a rarely successful genuine-sounding blend of both old and new sounds. I’m reminded of many different musicians but not one sticks out as a dominant influence – in my favorite Tam Lin songs, Judas Tree and Porcelain Boy, Paul’s songwriting evokes an enchanting pop-folk feel as if Peter Gabriel, David Byrne, and Belle and Sebastian remade Nick Drake’s Bryter Layter.

This combination of expert songwriting, soft and sweetly sung vocals, and highly intelligent lyrics is bound to gain Paul considerable recognition. The chance to see Tam Lin for free at the October 11 Songwriter Showcase is one that should not be passed up.
- Jezebel Music, Brooklyn, NY


August 5th, 2006
by Owen

From deep inside the hectic electricity and streetlight sidewalks of Brooklyn New York, flowers grow. Those wise enough to tend their gardens will cultivate a lush bed of colors that stand in stark contrast to the grimy brick walls and dirty gutters of the city in which it dwells. Paul Weinfield of Tam Lin sows the seeds that make those flowers grow. Flowers that live to be so beautiful, to see them prospering in such a harsh environment makes you a little sad. Composed with a very delicate touch of acoustic guitars, drum machines and blippy little keyboards, Tam Lin makes the music that steps out of a dream and wonders whether it should have stayed there. It’s a very open and fragile aesthetic that crafts songs like “Porcelain Boy” and “Floating World“, with lines like “who made you so frail/is my body just a jail/that keeps your soul from moving on?”

I recently talked to Paul about a few of his songs and whether or not he felt there was an underlying theme to any of his songs.

“It’s not specific theme. I think a lot of them are love songs but they’re working with a type of love that’s trying to discern between the difference of unconditional and selfish love. That’s a big theme, whether unconditional love is possible.”

Indeed, in Porcelain Boy he tells of a failing relationship, singing “you and I have tried so much/to keep alive so little”, “There’s nothing left to fake/we’re just waiting for it to break”. It’s right there in those lines that he’s put himself and the listener in that dark place we’ve all been in on the cusp of a really lousy breakup.

There’s something important in that. There’s something really important about someone who knows how to put themselves in that place, because if you can’t make your audience believe you’ve been there, they won’t feel like they’re going there with you. It would be pointless for someone who has never been through a heartbreak to sing a song about it. There’s no frame of reference. It would be like me telling you what it was like to be the first man on the moon, all speculation and no true emotional attachment. Tam Lin has been there and back, and the songs are the postcards to prove it.

“There’s so much that gets lost in all parts of the process. Its about being okay with how much gets lost, between your head and the paper and with other musicians, its about the humility of being okay with that.”

The song Floating World sounds like a daytime soap opera, all dramatic organ and tight production. Tam sings of people and places that seem to be drifting farther away from him and his points of view, finally surrendering with “There’s nowhere to go in this floating world/except back into ourselves again”. This line reflects on the importance of being independent before anything else, a fitting piece of verse considering Paul does most of the music for Tam Lin. I asked him whether or not he thought it was easier to fly solo when you’ve got a musical vision, and whether or not working with other musicians attributed to losing some part of the message in the music.

“There’s so much that gets lost in all parts of the process. Its about being okay with how much gets lost, between your head and the paper and with other musicians, its about the humility of being okay with that.” In response to being asked whether or not some musicians might not be on the same level lyrically, Paul said “A lot of musicians are just that, musicians aren’t so worried about the lyrics, So I have more autonomy in Tam Lin.”

Paul has said that his songs are like children in that you spawn them but eventually they leave you. The idea of giving birth to a song that eventually wanders off to make a life for itself stems from the notion of folk music, songs that eventually become standards, to be played by anyone. Lord knows The Man in Black understood this, having made records of old folk legends like “The Ballad of Ira Hayes” and “John Henry”. It seems in the past few years, folk music has come back into style in a modern incarnation. But is a song with a story at its core still folk, or is it more than that?

“My parents are folkies i heard it a lot growing up,” says Paul. “And i feel like the whole word folk had resonance when the song could be shared and done by a lot of other people. I want to write songs that could be separated from me and played by other people.” It’s a great thought to love your songs so much that you’ll let them go, in hopes that someone will appreciate them so much, they’ll take them in as their own based on that unconditional love that Tam Lin is trying to peg down. In short, just by making these songs and being so willing to part with them when it’s necessary, He has created an unconditional love. It says to me, sure, I’ve created you, you’ve been nurtured and worked on and taken an amount of effort that knows no amount of time, but in the end it isn’t about me, or what I’ve done, it’s about how the song comes out in the end.

Tam Lin has let me into the garden, and what’s more, allowed the listener to pick the flowers they want, to take home and plant themselves.
- Freshout Media, Philadelphia, PA


June 20th, 2006

1. Where are you from? How did you get your artist-/band-/project- name?

I grew up in New York City, though I moved around a lot. I listened to a lot of folk music as a kid – my parents were involved in that whole scene. One of my favorite songs was Fairport Convention’s version of “Tam Lin,” and at some point that took hold as a stage name, though I can’t remember exactly when.

2. How did you get involved in music?

My mother was a classical composer, and while she didn’t really encourage me to play classical music, she always wanted me to understand music theory in general. I picked up an acoustic guitar when I was nine and have been playing since. I didn’t really start writing songs, though, until I was in my twenties.

3. What are your influences (e.g. bands, styles, circumstances)? Your personal way of music?

I’m influenced by a lot of different music. I listen to a lot of sixties-era jazz, to psych groups, to a lot of Brazilian music (Caetano Veloso has been a particular influence,) etc. I also love musicians who have a very deep sense of the connections between words and melody, and so I like a lot of the old songwriters for that reasons, like the Gershwins, etc. When I write music, I usually begin with the melody and then try to lay the words out against that.

4. How would you describe your music?

It’s folk music, though I guess all music is folk music once it’s shared with others. But I think it comes out of a place of solitude too, since writing is sort of a lonely process. Some people have called it “avant-folk”, since it has a folk feel but has extensions into other genres too.

5. Which is your best way to write songs/music? How can you work most efficiently?

There are two types of songwriters, I think: the ones that write pages and pages of words and music and then try to boil it down to a simple song, and the ones write one line at a time, very slowly, and only when the inspiration strikes. Neil Young is like that. I’m more like the first, though. I can fill up a notebook with words I’ll never use, but that process of continual writing really helps me get in touch with the song in a way that slow writing can’t.

6. How long does it take you to create a song? – e.g. writing an recording

That depends. I’ve written songs in twenty minutes. Other songs have taken years. It doesn’t seem to affect the quality, either: sometimes taking more time with a song makes it better; other times it ruins it.

7. Are you also working together with other musicians as guest players or in collaboration?

Yes, I play a lot these days with a band comprised of Rob Calder (bass), Dylan Wissing (drums), and Mike Shobe (trumpet). Those guys all come from different backgrounds, and together they bring in a nice mix of rock, folk, and jazz.

8. Which is your favorite location to play and where will you play next?

I had a great time playing at the Mercury Lounge in New York City this past spring; their sound and energy is really great. But I’ll play anywhere, anytime: subway tunnels, parks, or random coffee shops.

9. Do you have a video to your music?

Not yet. I’m waiting for Martin Scorcese to make up his mind about whether he wants to direct it.

10. Do you have other profiles next to the one on BeSonic?

Yes, an “official” website (www.tamlinmusic.com), a Myspace page, a Sonicbids page, and some random European ones I can’t remember or ever visit.

11. Plans for the future?

I’ve had some invitations to come to England and play. I’d really like to do that. I feel like there’s something happening there with the folk scene that’s special. Of course, I’d like to get signed at some point too. It’s hard to find the right fit.

12. Anything you want to add at this point?

Thanks for your support. It’s nice to think that something like a song that begins in your head can make its way into another person’s life. - BeSonic.com


Discography

"Begin Again" (2009)
"In the Twilight" (2008)
"Floating World" (2006)

Photos

Bio

He remembers finding someone’s copy of Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited on vinyl. He was nine years old, and within a few days he had memorized all the words to “Desolation Row.” It was the moment when he realized that songs aren’t just tunes with words: they’re worlds that can be inhabited fully, worlds filled with strange characters, unexpected emotions, and lessons to be learned. He was nine years old, and it was that year that he learned to play guitar and begin dreaming up song worlds of his own.

A few decades and several hundred songs later, Tam Lin, aka Paul Weinfield, is still at work, crafting, performing, and living his intricate and magical songs. 2009 marks the release of his third album, Begin Again, produced by Mario J. McNulty (David Bowie, Philip Glass) and featuring such illustrious performers as Aaron Comess (The Spin Doctors, Joan Osborne) and Mike Shobe (Wu Li). Begin Again is a rare gem in the world of singer-songwriter music: an album that is as sonically adventurous as it is well written. Using Omnichords, open-tuned guitars, and distorted trumpets, Begin Again combines a Leonard Cohen-esque approach to precise, poignant songwriting with the ambient sound-textures of artists such as Talk Talk, John Martyn, and Daniel Lanois. The result is a total musical experience in which cinematic narratives, elegant melodies, and sonic landscapes all come together to form a single world in which the listener can fully reside.

Tam Lin has long been a favorite of the New York City songwriter’s scene. Time Out New York praised his earlier albums, In the Twilight (2008) and Floating World (2006), for their “gentle, literate tunes … wistful yet vaguely sinister.” “Every now and again a musician is preceded by his reputation,” Dan D’Ippolito of Jezebel Music, a Brooklyn-based promoter of independent music writes. “The intricacies and uniqueness of [Tam Lin’s] compositions stand alone as a rare, successful, genuine-sounding blend of old and new sounds.” Tam Lin has played at some of the northeast coast’s most prestigious venues: New York City’s Mercury Lounge, Philadelphia’s World Café, etc. He is known for playing in a variety of formats, depending on the venue: intimate solo sets in which he can showcase his songwriting, “cabaret-style” shows with guitar loops and trumpets, or in full regalia, with his electric band.

At the center of Tam Lin’s sound, however, is his voice: a lush, gentle baritone that is utterly unlike that of any contemporary singer and at once extremely recognizable. One recent blogger described it as “simple, soulful, and socially-sentient – he could sing the IHOP menu and make it sound like molten glass.” It is this distinct voice that makes Tam Lin’s music accessible to a variety of age groups and genres. His music has at times been classified as folk, rock, ambient, and soul, but it seems that whatever style Tam Lin occupies, the result is always music that is wholly his own. He is the son of a poet and classical composer, and a lot of his expressivity comes from exploring this tension between speaking and singing, much like a Lou Reed or a Lee Hazelwood. And like a Nick Drake or a Leonard Cohen, his music tends to win listeners over with its patience and gentleness.

So for everyone who remembers what it was like to first enter the world of a song, here is a chance to experience that magic all over again. Pick up a copy of Begin Again and be transported.

For more information about Tam Lin, his recordings, and his live shows, please visit the following websites:

Recent Studio Releases: http://www.myspace.com/tamlinmusic
Video Footage of Live Shows: http://www.youtube.com/tamlinmusic
Electronic Press Kit: http://www.sonicbids.com/tamlinmusic
Official Website: http://www.tamlinmusic.com