Sally Timms – In the World of Him

Sally Timms
In the World of Him

Sally Timms’ most recent solo effort, In the World of Him is a gender-bending confessional of masculine thought and emotion filtered through Timms’ unquestionably feminine voice. Sally, who sings for the Mekons, collected a variety of songs written by men and sings them from a male perspective. No pronouns are changed, and the topics run the range from war and abandonment to marriage and death as the guys attempt to explain themselves and these situations to the gals. While this type of concept album isn’t groundbreaking and could be prone to utter failure for some, Sally Timms has a profound knack for interpreting a song. In the case of the tracks on In the World of Him, Timms channels the words of these men with the soft, subtle understanding of a woman.

While this release is Sally Timms solo, her Mekons mates are well referenced, as some of the songs here are theirs. This may disappoint fans of the band who have already heard some of the tracks here in one form or another. “Bomb” and “Corporal Chalkie” are straight-up Mekons tunes, and while they are definitely good they do leave you wishing for something that hasn’t been heard before. The familiarity continues through “Sentimental Marching Song,” which was written by the Mekons’ Jon Langford. This first song does serve as the litmus test lyrically, especially when Timms sings “all men the same born to brutalize.” Just remember that of nine tracks, Sally only wrote the last one – a take-off on the nursery rhyme Little Tommy Tucker.

In the World of Him works best with the remaining non-Mekons tracks. Sean Garrison’s “High Dosage” is about a man who is dying, and Timms’ gives the song a touching sheen of despair and beauty that easily separates it from the bunch. The short “139 Hernalser Gurtel” is about war and is done in a creepy cabaret style, while Brit Kevin Coyne’s “I’m Just a Man” is a poetic piece of alt-country. Timms’ rendition of Ryan Adams’ “Fools We are as Men” is a stark but weighty song about a boyfriend lamenting the loss of his woman and his fear of dying alone. Here Sally’s voice is at its finest, and she delivers the words with such a deep sense of understanding that cannot be overlooked. This track alone is worth the purchase price of the album.

Although there are a few places Sally could have picked less well-known songs, the overall package is excellent, right down to the cover art. Here Timms’ replicates a Larry Sultan photograph from the series titled “The Valley.” The original depicts porn star Sharon Wild in between takes holding herself and staring at the camera with a blank look. This recreated pose tops off the theme of the album and helps perpetuate the dreary tone which pervades each song. In the World of Him doesn’t shatter any male-female barriers, but it does give a deeper look into the differences between the sexes. This is something everyone should listen to, if only for small insight.