Singer-songwriter and guitar hero Mary Timony announces her new album, Untame the Tiger, lead single/video “Dominoes,” and an extensive 2024 North American headline tour. Untame the Tiger marks Timony’s fifth solo album, her first in 15 years. It’s a startling document of an artist fully coming into her own power during the fourth decade of her career, the product of lessons learned during life-altering struggle.
Lead single “Dominoes” is a cynical and funny description of a relationship not working out, and a reminder of the healing power of music. “This song was almost not on the record,” says Timony. “We needed one last song, and I found a demo of it I had forgotten about at the last minute.” Mixed by Dave Fridmann (MGMT, The Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev), “Dominoes” features album contributors David Christian (Karen O, Hospitality) on drums and album co-producer Dennis Kane on bass.
For more than 30 years, Mary Timony has cut a distinctive path through the world of independent music, most recently as vocalist and guitarist of acclaimed garage-pop power trio Ex Hex (Merge) but also as a member of seminal post-punk band Autoclave (Dischord), celebrated leader of the deeply influential Helium (Matador), multifaceted solo artist (Matador, Lookout!, Kill Rock Stars), and a co-founder of supergroup Wild Flag (Merge). Described by Sleater-Kinney’s Carrie Brownstein as “Mary Shelley with a guitar” and dubbed “a trailblazer and an innovator” by [Mary’s former guitar student] Lindsey Jordan AKA Snail Mail, Timony has distinguished herself as one of her generation’s most influential guitarists and songwriters. Although she has remained a cult hero and critical favorite since the early ’90s, appearing everywhere from 120 Minutes episodes to Coachella sets, Timony’s many triumphs have long been counterbalanced by crippling doubt and self-nullification.
The mystical, guitar-driven Untame the Tiger emerged after the dissolution of a long-term relationship, and was bookended by the deaths of Timony’s father and mother. The album was recorded during a two-year period during which she was the primary caregiver for her ailing parents. “This was the hardest thing I’ve been through. Every week I had to manage a new crisis.” The tectonic psychic shift Mary experienced informs many of her lyrics on the album. “I started realizing that I gotta control the things that I can,” says Timony, who would write songs while going on mind-clearing walks and bike rides around her native Washington, DC. “Because I was making impossible decisions on behalf of my parents, creative choices now seemed more manageable. Since I had to confront the reality of loss, I realized what was important to me about being alive, and I became less scared. The record became my anchor in a time when I was losing so much around me. It felt like all I had—a guide that helped me through, and gave me hope.”
Untame the Tiger picks up the thread woven through Timony’s freak-folk-anticipating solo albums of the early ’00s. Basic tracks were recorded at Los Angeles’ Studio 606, with Timony backed by Dave Mattacks, drummer of legendary British folk-rock band Fairport Convention. “Mattacks is a hero of mine and one of my favorite musicians of all time. He is a true legend. I never in a million years thought he’d agree to play on my record,” says Timony. “Before the session, I had a panic attack and had to go sit alone in the parking lot… Once we started playing together, it felt so great that the fear subsided and turned into excitement. His playing felt instantly familiar, which makes sense because it’s the foundation of many of my favorite records.”
Untame the Tiger was produced by Mary Timony, Joe Wong (composer on Master of None, Russian Doll, The Midnight Gospel, Krapopolis, host of The Trap Set podcast), and Dennis Kane. The album was recorded over the course of two years at Studio 606, Magpie Cage, 38North, and in Mary’s basement. Additional engineering by J. Robbins (Jawbox, Burning Airlines). Musicians include Chad Molter (Faraquet, Medications), David Christian, and Brian Betancourt (Cass McCombs, Devendra Banhart, Hospitality). The album was mixed by Dave Fridmann, Dennis Kane, and John Agnello (Dinosaur Jr., Kurt Vile, Waxahatchee).