Dirty Linen, review of Closer to the Truth

Emerging from the ashes of the Houston-based group St. Elmo’s Fire in the late 70s, TFIA is a quirky pair of musicians. Establishing their own independent label Trout Records in 1990 with the debut Trout is Stranger than Fishin’, Ezra Idlet (guitar/vocals) and Keith Grimwood (bass/vocals) split time between adult-oriented and children’s music. With Closer To The Truth, TFIA aims for an older market, yet a not-so-subtle whiff of naivete and humor dominates the music.

The pair are obviously musically talented, whether or not one appreciates their wit. Assisted by Jerry Douglas, Vassar Clements, and Tim O’Brien, Idlet and Grimwood balance Closer To The Truth with a handful of ‘serious’ songs, such ‘There You Go’ and ‘Big Boys in Bad Shape.’ Perhaps their greatest asset is instrumentation multiplicity: While there is a definite pattern throughout the album, every song is fortified by the choice of instruments used. Whether it be harmonica, steel guitar, or cello, the instruments lend each song a distinctive stamp. And this allows Closer To The Truth a variety that is often lacking with artists of the same ilk.

Humor can often have a short shelf life. That is not so with TFIA. The duo understands the importance of change and deviates accordingly throughout this baker’s dozen of songs. It is evident that TFIA has been around for quite some time. The duo has a clear handle on their music and consistently release well-recorded and structured offerings. This one is no different.