Joshua James - 'From the Top of Willamette Mountain' CD Review ( Intelligent Noise) ~ BrooklynRocks: NYC Music Blog

Monday, November 19, 2012

Joshua James - 'From the Top of Willamette Mountain' CD Review ( Intelligent Noise)

Joshua James - 'From the Top of Willamette Mountain' CD Review ( Intelligent Noise)
Folk/Americana artist Joshua James spent five years touring the world in support of his first two discs, 2007’s The Sun Is Always Brighter and 2009’s Build Me This. In early 2011, he headed back to Utah, and, during this extended stay at home, James took to vegetable gardening, raising goats and chickens, and developed a heightened connection to the living things around him. Ultimately, his home and burgeoning farm were deemed ‘Willamette Mountain,’ a namesake that came to James in a dream. Both figuratively and literally, Willamette Mountain serves as a daily reminder of the simple beauties that can so easily be overlooked. “We’ve got a few acres, goats and honeybees,” he says, “it’s a place for reconnecting with nature, and for letting go of everything else.” It was here that James bore the songs compiling his newest album, appropriately titled From The Top Of Willamette Mountain.

The album artwork contains a number of hand-drawn photos of Willamette Mountain though James notes on an inside panel "i am not real". In James' "imaginary place where anything and everything was possible", he tells vivid narratives of hope and redemption, salvation and damnation and good and evil. The disc was produced by The Shins' keyboardist Richard Swift (who also produced Damien Jurado) who captured the immediacy and intimacy of James’ live performances.

Music on this new disc ranges from minimalistic, rustic Americana to reverb-laden 60's pop to dark-hued, full-bodied folk numbers. The disc starts out with the rustic "Mystic" where James' lyrics tell the tale of finding a little woman who had "the color of the city and the fire of a country flame" but James later laments "I sold you for a cigarette / I hope you'd sell me off for less". James shifts gears for the next track, "Queen of the City", which is the album's first single. This is an upbeat, electric number which James describes as a "'me n’ my dog' song" which he wrote after a late-night drinking session, alone at home with his dog. The song contains the line "My dog ain’t nothin, he ain’t nothin like my lover". James takes the tempo back down on the next cut, "Surrender", which is a striped-down piano waltz. Toward the middle of the disc, James heads in a more traditional Americana direction but mixes things up with "So I Did" - a shimmery, echo & reverb laden 60's pop number which sounds like it could have come out of The Zombies back catalog. The disc's strongest cuts are "Ghost in the Town" and "Holly, Halej", both of which have a "Dylanish" full-band sound that could easily attract fans of more mainstream acts like Wilco and Mumford and Sons.

Joshua's next show is at the Troubadour in Los Angeles on January 17th (Tickets).

Joshua James