From Big Notebook for Easy Piano
If a pianist were to describe the sound of a car wreck or a person falling into deep water in the most consonant way possible, the opening lick to “Tricky Fingers” would be how I’d imagine it would sound (though I’m definitely not a pianist). And with the jarring urgency of a car accident, Seth Timbs baptized us all into the world of Fluid Ounces with this being the first song that he actually wrote for the project.
True, “Sick” and “Record Stack” are older songs, written and played for Ella Minopy, the fore-runner to Fluid Ounces, but they are songs arranged on guitar. Seth had developed some great chops over the years, but it seems he tried to keep the piano equal with the guitar in arranging everything for his songwriting ventures before Fluid Ounces. But with “Tricky Fingers,” it’s like we’re being smacked in the face with the piano, as if Seth is telling the world, “We’re a piano band, dammit!”
Seth has maintained an amazing consistency in the tone of his voice since recording the band’s second album. Anytime I see them live now, I could swear he could go right back into the studio and re-record the vocals to all of In the New Old Fashioned Way exactly the same as the first time. But what amazed me when Seth and Brian Rogers broke this song out in their “Half Ounce” duo set in January 6th, 2007 (presented below for download, though performed sans the record's classic intro), was how easily Seth could turn on the exact same tone to sing this song very close to the way he did when Big Notebook was recorded. He was just a kid back then, and he sang it like a kid. If you compare it to the three Ella Minopy mp3s that have surfaced, or if you’re lucky (or un-lucky?) enough to hear the Seth Timbs and the Mad Hatters demos from ’91-’93, you’ll find that “Tricky Fingers” is a bridge between vocal stylings of the past and the piano-based future that would define the sound for his next ten years of song writing.
The other standard established here that is a hallmark of Fluid Ounces’ music is the idea of the up-beat song that does not necessarily reflect happy subject matter. Exclaiming that, “Life is such a permanent gyp!” and pointing out that, “Everybody seems to be too drunk, so everybody stays…” could never have been said with more excitement in such a seemingly feel-good song. And even though Seth goes as far in the upbeat direction to sing, “If you’re happy and you know it/ it just gets better from here,” it almost feels like a death sentence in light of the rest of the song.
On the other hand, stating that, “It just gets better from here,” also serves as a great jumping-off point for a great band and so many great songs that would follow this one.
Download Live mp3--courtesy of Fluid Ounces! (but recorded by yours truly)