ADAM'S MUSIC REVIEWS
October 31, 2013
Possessed by Paul James – There Will Be Nights When I’m Lonely
by Adam Hook
My first experience with Possessed by Paul James was an uncomfortable one. My brother took me to a back room in his house to play me something “new,” as he called it. While he was accessing the song on his iPod, I wasn’t expecting much, just the typical music that we always shared with each other. Suddenly, I heard a series of “Yar, Yar, Yars” punching from my brother’s computer speakers. I instantly thought, what the hell is this? Then, the music started and my life was divided into two parts: before that moment and after that moment. I realized that I would never be the same. I was frantically searching hidden databases deep within my skull in a vain attempt to categorize this melody that was causing my entire musical world to become unhinged. It’s not often that I am surprised by music, but I was completely, off my ass, shocked by the sounds scrapping against my bones. Then I realized that I didn’t know the name of this genius, this true musician that contorted my face into an expression of awe after mere seconds of listening. I was dumbfounded. Once my brother provided the details, it all made sense because this troubadour was, in every sense of the word, possessed.
There are two types of people in the world: fans of Possessed by Paul James and those that haven’t heard Possessed by Paul James. My heart breaks for the latter. Their lives are dull and filled with boring, uneventful music that fits into nice little boxes awaiting mass consumption. PPJ bursts through all of these preconceived notions of what music should sound like. He doesn’t care, he just plays. Each album he’s released has been overflowing with amazing songs and his latest, There Will Be Nights When I’m Lonely, is no different. It’s been said in countless reviews and I’ll echo the sentiment here that it would be a difficult task to surpass his astonishing previous album, Feed the Family, but he’s managed this feat quite well. In fact, I think he just completed his masterpiece. I refuse to list the standouts on the record because the entire work shines. Instead, I challenge you, dear reader, to listen to the album and not be changed. It’s not possible. His songwriting seeps into your skin and becomes part of your biology. Everyone can relate to his tales of loss and redemption.
Accompanying his yarns are expert banjo, fiddle, and guitar playing that catapult each track into the stratosphere. Even with all these words and opinions, I can’t completely convey the feeling I get every time I hear a Possessed by Paul James record. It is an out of body experience and I highly recommend it. His music is the closest thing to perfection one can achieve and he keeps getting better. Whoever may read these few lines, understand that whatever you do today, this week, this month, make sure to set aside some time to listen to There Will Be Nights When I’m Lonely. When you do, I know that you will have the same ethereal experience that I have had countless times listening to the glorious music that he summons from deep within.
Click here to pick up the record.
October 10, 2013
The White Buffalo – Shadows, Greys & Evil Ways
by Adam Hook
Few albums have come out recently that have made me want to extinguish my Soaked in Sound hiatus. The record that shattered the tediousness transforming my bones is by singer/songwriter Jake Smith, aka the White Buffalo, and that album is Shadow, Greys & Evil Ways. The album was released in mid-September and I have been absorbing it ever since. One of the glaring problems with music today is the lack of storytelling. Artists forget that combining a great narrative, with great music; can make for an astonishing release. Smith has mastered this equation over the past several years and the new material showcases his unparalleled skill as songwriter. Shadow, Greys & Evil Ways focuses on the connection between two equally naïve lovers, Joe and Jolene. As the music progresses we are witness to the chaotic madness that is their lives and the fragility of the human psyche. This is particularly apparent in Joe, as he emerges as the weary leading character of Smith’s gritty tale. We follow him through his unquestioning love for Jolene, to his inability to fund his growing family unit and, with a weakening grip on that stability, decides to enlist in the Armed Forces. His naiveté punctures the story as he experiences firsthand that the invisible ideology of military life fails in actual practice. He is deployed to Iraq, where he uses his newfound talents to eradicate an enemy he’s ordered to hate. But the beauty of Shadow, Greys & Evil Ways is when Joe returns home. One of the best tracks on the record is 30 Days Back. Smith’s voice permeates the song with a pain that bleeds from the speakers. Furthermore, the lyrics of the short piece are some of his greatest writing:
“30 days back, back from the war.
These soulful lyrics are complemented by piano, guitar, and erratic strings, making it one of the most haunting songs I have heard in years. From that moment the tone of Shadow, Greys & Evil Ways changes as Joe plummets deeper into the despair of coping with the dark acts replaying themselves in his troubled mind. But there is redemption for Smith’s characters as the record comes to its conclusion. From the first track to the closing fade, Shadow, Greys & Evil Ways has a power that needs to be experienced to comprehend.
Still adjusting my mind, adjusting my score
Too long in the desert, too long in the sun
Still looking for answers, but I ain’t got none
Gotta heart and a head too heavy to heal
Put a pistol in my mouth, just to feel something real
They build me up strong, made me numb and mean
Ship me on home, one killing machine”
Click here to pick up the record.