Tim Minchin Apart Together

Tim Minchin is many things. In 2013, the University of Western Australia gave Minchin an honorary Doctor of Letters degree for his contribution to the arts recognizing his achievements as a “composer, lyricist, actor, writer, and comedian.”

That’s a lot of things, but all of that is important, so you understand that Minchin’s first serious musical album, 2020’s Apart Together, is brilliant. It’s critical to first understand that it’s not only a long time in coming: it’s unique, bibliographic, and poetic. 

Minchin’s released albums before. He’s released comedy albums and topical singles, and he’s been involved with musicals, movies, and television shows. Before Apart Together was even released, Tim Minchin was one of my favorite philosopher poets, though I’m not sure that’s how he’d describe himself.

Since Apart Together and the subsequent release of the live album “Apart Together (Live At Trackdown Studios),” they’ve been in my listening rotation almost daily and at least weekly.

The studio and live albums are equally great, so let this glowing review double for both albums and explain exactly why I consider Minchin a philosopher poet.

Apart Together is an album about how the artist of many forms sees the world around him and his place in it. I appreciate the lyrical genius here and how it’s somehow elevated from his musical comedy linguistic talents, which were top-notch. I enjoy his poetic verse and grasp of language that he warps and bends to his will. But most of all, I enjoy his observations.

This is where I have to admit that while I would preorder a Tim Minchin autobiography, songs like “I’ll Take Lonely Tonight,” “The Absence Of You,” “Leaving LA,” and “Talk Too Much, Stayed Too Long” are probably an inclination that he’s already done his autobiography in song here.

“Airport Piano” is about culture and sociology, and “If This Plane Goes Down” is about mortality. There are a number of songs about romance and love. But his points aren’t just being conveyed lyrically. He’s getting his points across with his selection of upbeat major chords and downbeat minor chords. These songs are still a continuation of his autobiography, but they’re more than that. They’re ambiguous enough to encompass Minchin’s view of a particular situation and the broader messages that he’s always aspired to touch on in his comedy. All of this is why I consider him a philosopher. 

This isn’t some self-serving, listen-to-my-story, listen-to-this-thought album, though. Lyrically it’s poetic, musically it’s moving, and for me, one of the most important aspects is that the studio and live versions are each great albums. You listen to them from track one through track eleven in one sitting to be taken on a journey. It really is one of the most beautiful albums I’ve heard and enjoyed in recent memory.