From The Top Of Willamette Mountain
It came as a disappointment that Willamette Mountain doesn’t exist, or not exactly, anyway. Willamette is a real place – it’s a valley in Oregon surrounded by mountains – but the Mountain of James’ album title is actually what he calls his home in Utah where he keeps goats, chickens and honeybees.
James’ full-length album has been re-released with an EP, Beware! Both are a culmination of James living an existence which has offered him breathing space for pondering life’s big questions. The albums he has written ‘from the top’ of the Mountain are inevitably introspective. The songs are cloaked in a wintry, dark eeriness and there are plentiful references to God and ghosts and uneasy thoughts. Take Mystic which is about a mythological creature looking down on Great Salt Lake, telling a story of falling in love and hiding his true self. Lyrics such as, Baby I know I lost ya / the moment you could finally see’, are pretty much what the albums say overall.
As morose as this all sounds it’s strangely likeable as James’ vocals have a boyish quality and bring a little brightness to the black. And although it feels like folk/Americana albums are a dime a dozen at the moment, James’ album is worth more than one listen.