The keys crash down upon us ever so slowly as the potent instrumental “February 13th” fills our speakers with its emotional tonal presence, and while there are no words in this song, the haunting echo of the verses preceding it in “Long Sleeves” and “Static” can be felt in every second of the track’s nearly three-minute run time. We are at once buried beneath the weight of loneliness and inspired to press forward by a faded optimism, both implied by the overwhelmingly melancholic melody within this song, and to me, this best summarizes the core identity of Timberline’s latest album Florescence.
“February 13th” is but one of twenty different songs included in Florescence, but the confession of fragility it reveals to us without the use of lyrics is reason enough to pick up the entire LP this season. Peeking out from behind the strings in “Towhee,” “Flannel,” “Now,” and “Temporary,” there exist unguarded stories of loss and rebuilding; a concept of contrast that can be found in all of the music Timberline has recorded thus far. What sets this effort apart from its predecessors is the fullness of the album’s narrative, especially as it’s considered from the view of the complete tracklist rather than specific songs.
Ambient elements protrude their way into the master mix of “Jeep,” “Second Guess,” “August Snows” and “Telogen,” and I think you could credit the influence of chamber pop for the generally immersive feel this material benefits from overall. There’s been a lot of introspection among the singer/songwriters I follow since the start of quarantining last year, but this is different in that it doesn’t feel specifically COVID-inspired. The mix doesn’t smother the intricacies in these compositions but instead nudges us a little closer to the detail without our ever having to touch the volume.
In the soaring “So Lost” and “Better Days,” you can just feel the emotion in Timberline’s vocal as it scales the wall of strings it’s arranged beside, and I can only imagine his singing sounding even more incredible in an intimate venue before a small audience. There’s something really close and almost familial in what he shares in these songs, and really throughout Florescence, and every time I listen to the record from beginning to end I feel like I’ve listened to the template for an incredible live performance far more than I have a simple studio effort from a criminally underrated singer/songwriter.
I’m going to keep an eye on everything this young man is attached to in the future, and if you’re keen on fantastic alternative folk content, you need to be doing the same right now. Timberline and his band Messy are just starting to get some attention outside of the local scene, and once college radio manages to get their hands on Florescence, I think international acclaim will be right around the corner. Florescence is indie folk for the discerning listener, and perhaps the best encapsulation of emotional pop songcraft I’ve reviewed since the similarly atmospheric The Family by the band Timber (ironically enough) back in 2018.