Mary Timony - The Golden Dove

Mary Timony
The Golden Dove

My relationship with Mary Timony is complicated. Strictly speaking, it’s not much of a relationship, really. When you witness the work of any artist, you’ automatically come into some kind of relationship, however loose, tight, coherent or absurd. Not to sound like a stalker, but I’ve followed her progress more or less since Helium’s Dirt of Luck (Matador) came out, when I saw the band play a free in-store at No life records in Los Angeles years ago. . But like I said, the relationship is complicated. When I moved to Boston, I had no idea she would cross my path as she was jogging and I was on my way home from work. I didn’t expect her to pop in to the convenience store I work at, where she would sit at the store’s corner lounge and pore over pages of her poetry. Along with these unusual run-ins, I encounter the occasional piece written about her in the mainstream media (a one page write up in a 1995 Spin Magazine and a more recent sidebar in Vanity Fair come to mind). So it is as more than just a music consumer that I come to listening to and thinking about her music. When I consider Timony’s work, I cannot help but consider her as a customer, an occasional interlocutor, a part of my neighborhood, and media darling.

Critics are fond of citing her tendency to employ fantastical lyrical images by misusing terms such as ‘mystical’. They are not wrong in citing her writing as possessing some type of magical realism, but when they focus exclusively on that, they miss the mark, as is apt of many writers with tastemaker ambitions. They miss her disgust and depth of imagination "Blood Tree" and her pointed and uncompromising questions. She asks in "Look a Ghost in the Eye," "Do you radiate hope, do you radiate doubt?" They craft adorably annoying lines such as, "Mary Timony makes what stoners like to call ‘wizard rock.’" or describe it as "Ideal listening for the wait between Lord of the Rings movies…" (Vanity Fair, July 2002) and miss her ideals in "Musik and Charming Melodee," and her testament to music’s liberating power. Such statements distract attention from the merits of her work by placing it in some lifestyle niche and then fail to ask the basic question that any decent listener must—is it a good record? The answer here is an emphatic yes. From the chord changes in "Blood Tree," to the haunting "The Owls Escape," to the lush and intoxicating "Music and Charming Melodee," to the groove-laden rhythms of "Ant’s Dance," The Golden Dove provides ample evidence of her ability to make good music. If the listener takes her words seriously and he will find that her magical realism is more than an end in itself, but a means by which to engage the aural imagination. She even gives her listeners a pretty obvious hint when she asks in the opening cut, "Do you feel what you are thinking about?"