Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Maxwell James: “Maxwell James” (2018) CD Review

Maxwell James is a singer and songwriter based in Nashville, his music a delicious blend of folk, rock, pop and blues, any sort of musical boundaries ignored in the name of pursuing something better. And he gets there. On his self-titled debut EP, he is joined by Jason Cheek on drums and percussion, Chris Croce on bass, David Dorn on organ and electric piano, and Scotty Murray on electric lap steel. All the songs are originals, written by Maxwell James.

The EP opens with “Roll Down Your Window Slowly,” a catchy tune with a steady beat, a song I dig right the start. It’s rock and pop, with a bit of a bluesy edge, a good song for summer. “Roll down your window slowly/Going to get to know me.” There is some playful vocal work toward the end, giving it a kind of relaxed groove, followed by a false ending. The blues edge is stronger, more pronounced, at the beginning of the next song, “Feed My Evolution.” This one too has a steady, and somewhat slow, rhythm, with an almost menacing quality. I particularly like the part on keys in the second half of the song. “Be my absolution from evil/Bite your tongue and don’t make a sound.”

My favorite track is “The More You Say, The Less I Know,” a wonderful mix of folk and blues with some damn good lyrics. “I’m on my way to feeling low/Sometimes I pray I just let go/What can I say when I know that I’ll be wrong.” There is something catchy about this song, and there is a good chance you’ll be singing along before it is over. That’s followed by another of this disc’s highlights, “Blatantly,” which begins with acoustic guitar and some seriously nice vocal work. There is something absolutely delightful about this song, about its sound. It has me smiling every time I listen to it. And check out these lyrics: “I don’t want to be untied/I just want to be on your side/When all of your friends/Have left you again/I don’t want to be inside/I just want to be on your mind/When all of your sins/Catch up in the end.” I love this song. The EP then concludes with “When It’s Real,” a slower folk-pop song, with more nice vocal work and a sweet, kind of sad vibe, which I love. “Right or wrong, I want to feel it/There’s a hope when it’s real/In my heart, I want to hear it/Like a song in my ear/And I know I can’t pretend/There’s a life without trouble/So I go and try to live/When I can.”

CD Track List
  1. Roll Down Your Window Slowly
  2. Feed My Evolution
  3. The More You Say, The Less I know
  4. Blatantly
  5. When It’s Real 
Maxwell James was released on March 22, 2018. I am definitely looking forward to hearing more from this singer/songwriter.

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