Posts Tagged ‘Folk’

Cover art by Graeme James

This one comes from New Zealand by way of Amsterdam. Graeme James, multi-instrumentalist and composer, is releasing a new album called Seasons on Nettwork Records. Inspired by his relocation from New Zealand to Amsterdam, the album is rich in layers of strings and delicate vocals. All together, James is a one-man band. He wrote, produced, and plucked nearly everything on this record, sans a few guest vocals, percussion, and brass. For the most part, James is as self-made as it comes, even drawing the album’s covers himself. James’s complex and earthy tunes capture cycles of life and weather with masterful precision. All in all, it’s a great flavor of indie folk that recalls shades of Villagers and perhaps Mumford and Sons (with better vocals and more optimism).

Seasons is a thoughtful and reflective set of tunes. Using the changing of seasons as larger metaphors for changes of life, he paints portraits of love and growth. Summertime sweet “Field Notes on an Endless Day” has tonal shades of Zeppelin’s “Going to California” amid its joyful ease. Single “Everlasting Love” is a straight-up country toe-tapper rejoicing one’s long-term affections: “If all that I had was you, I’d be the richest man on earth.” To use the lingo of the kids, that’s relationship goals right there. Autumnal ballad “All the Lives We Ever Lived” reflects on youthful exuberance, lamenting “We only wanted to live forever – was that too much to ask?” The whole album is a gorgeous mid-afternoon listen, curled up with a long term lover or a sleepy dog, warm like the cup of cocoa you’ll crave during “The Weight of Many Winters.”

The standout track for M-S-G is “The Voyage of the James Caird.” It is as dramatic a saga of a shipwreck survival as you can get, and as engaging as it sounds. Graeme’s voice takes on a more soulful thickness even than his other tunes as he tells the story of a real ship that near missed at rescuing its inhabitants. The percussion adds a rock beat to the gut-tingling drama of plucked high notes and rolling deeper tones. The cymbals crash like the waves against the resilient boat hull. From where it’s placed on the album, it feels like just the kind of tale you’d tell around a crackling fire on a cold winter evening, when one might need a message of persistence in peril. You know, kind of the way sea shanties became a thing during COVID for the same reason. No wonder Rolling Stone highlighted the track as a “Song[s] You Need to Know.”

If you’re into indie folk, check out Graeme James. Seasons comes in like a lion on April 1st.

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