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Music Review - `Western` by James Hyland (ea)

James Hyland - Western  (click on image to watch video)

 04 May 2020

 

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   James Hyland has been making music in Austin, Texas for nearly two decades. He has successfully toggled between a solo career and the  lead singer/guitarist for the South Austin Jug Band. Three albums as a solo artist are matched by three band efforts. His latest solo release, “Western,”  was nearly seven years in the making. 

  The album opens with the razor-sharp “The Edge Of Comancheria,” which features rustic banjo, a tick-tock beat and James’ sonorous rasp. His vocals land somewhere between Leonard Cohen’s gruff gravitas and Steve Earle’s San Antone sneer. 

  Over the course of 20 songs, “Western” is expansive and ambitious in all the right ways. From the rattlesnake Blues of “Texas Ranger,” the prickly locomotion of “First Westbound Train” and the Soulful ramble of “I Was Never Lost” to the lovesick “Kera,” the plaintive “Hill Country” and the spectral Bluegrass of “Ghost.” 

  The best tracks here display James’ trenchant wit. On “Nashville Song” he yearns to write an establishment hit and simultaneously bites the hand that he hopes will feed him; “Nashville folks, let me apologize, I don’t mean to offend, surely you realize what they’re doin’ and what they done to the Country song/You had old Johnny Cash, even had Steve Earle, you got the best Bluegrass pickers in the world, but it’s the other stuff, you can’t spend enough on the radio.” On “Swing It Your Way” he offers a persuasive argument for the 19th amendment from a Latter Day Saint, plural marriage perspective. Meanwhile, “The Ballad Of Eddie Mullet” is a tart narrative featuring a family of outlaws all rockin’ Carol Brady’s signature ‘do.

  Other interesting tracks include the down-home bluster of “Weather On The Wood,” the moody “Dark And Weary World” and  “Top Floor,” which shares some musical DNA with Stephen Foster’s “Oh Susannah.” The album closes with the lonesome ache of “Full Moon.” 

 


Music Reviewer - Eleni P. AustinEleni P. Austin - I was born into a large, loud Greek family and spent my formative years in the Los Angeles enclaves of Laurel Canyon and Los Feliz. My mother moved us to the Palm Springs area just in time for puberty and Disco.  I have spent over 40 years working in record stores, starting back in High School.

I wrote music reviews for the Desert Sun from 1983 to 1988. I began doing the same for the Coachella Valley Weekly in 2012.

I live in Palm Springs with my wife and our amazing dog, Denver. 

To Read All of Eleni P.'s Reviews, Click Here

 

 

 


 

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