Monday, November 12, 2012

REVIEW: Joshua James - From The Top Of Willamette Mountain

From The Top Of Willamette Mountain is the latest and third album from Utah's Joshua James, and it is a triumph, a record you can truly get lost in. Like some of My Morning Jacket's best work and the recent Damien Jurado record we reviewed here, it features excellent and affecting songs, a variety of tempos, a lot of reverb, terrific songcraft and a unique lead vocalist.

He's really got an amazing way with a song - on the acoustic ones (opener "Mystic" and "Doctor, Oh Doctor") he and Richard Swift (Damien Jurado, Gardens and Villas) mix it just right. On the more rocking songs, he and Swift excel at building them to what would seem a peak, only to top that with a well-placed pedal steel, nicely multitracked vocals or a string section.

You can download "Queen Of The City", the second track on the album, here. I think it's the best song on the record, and that's saying a lot - there are lots of very good songs on here. "Feel The Same" is a pretty ballad with some sobering lyrics: "I started wishing for a chemical to make me feel/ A little more animal and a little less real" - and all kinds of effects backing up a pretty simple construction. "Holly, Halej" is a beautiful, soaring yet understated rock song - almost a hymn with drums, bass, electric and pedal steel guitar.

Here is a video for "Ghost In The Town":

You can learn more, or buy the record at his label, Intelligent Noise. The record came out last week - so you're in luck. It's available now.

As a bonus, here's a video of James performing Tom Waits' "Green Grass":

Even if his songs weren't so good, his voice might draw you in. But his songs are very good. 

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