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).