Apr 23, 2012 Album Reviews
Posted by Adam
Nothing excites me more than actually being excited about a local record. The Paper Planes came together just last year when Driftwood Motion leader, Evan Harris and drummer Brandon Wood played a show with Joshua P. James as the opener. Harris and Wood dropped what they were doing and created the perfect rhythm section for James’ old timey folk/country/rock songs.
Old Timey, I hate that description, because James is fully aware of the century in which he lives, but the sounds to seem to lurk somewhere in the late fifties or early sixties. James’ drawn out baritone sometimes conjures up the ghosts of Johnny Cash and Buddy Holly while still having a unique tone that really drives the entire feel of the album and sets him apart from so many of the other singer songwriters out there.
The album is well put together, and the sound is phenomenal which is something that is sometimes lacking with local records. Make no mistake this was not just recorded in a living room, it is a bonafide debut despite it’s lack of big label backing. James’ songwriting skills are impeccable and his aforementioned haunting vocals combine flawlessly with his guitar skills, Harris’ unconventional yet remarkable upright skills, and Woods’ drumming (which in my opinion is the best in Ohio) to create one of the early favorites for my year end top ten. Also of note are the great bar room feel of the loose harmonies that are dropped in at exactly the right moments in the songs. I’m not sure who handles the arrangements of the songs, but whoever they are they did a great job.
“Haunt Your House” tells the story of a man claiming that a woman will never be able to rid herself of him, even in death. This one makes me really yearn to see them live as the energy on the recorded version leaps out of the speakers damn near with a trail of sparks.
Another favorite of mine on the record, is “Prettiest Girl”, a slower number that tells of James’ world travels while looking for the perfect mate. After all the searching he comes to the conclusion that the grass was in fact not greener on the other side and the girl standing right next to him is the actually “the one”. Normally I am not for whistling in a song, but the whistle in this song really makes it stand out to me.
The best song on the record is a toss up between, “Shape I’m In”, James’ lament of the lifestyle he has chosen and “Sour Apple”, a tale of love gone wrong. Also of note is the sweet finger picked, “High Lonesome”, a song that showcases James’ superb lyrics and his vocal with minimal backing by the Planes.
I have to admit when I heard that Harris and Wood had abandoned The Driftwood Motion to play behind some guy I had never heard of, I was disappointed. That is until I heard this record. Joshua P. James is a damn fine songwriter and he and the planes have delivered one hell of an album. One that I suggest everyone go order immediately. I have yet to see them live, but I have heard that they are a riot on stage, and I would not be surprised to see them rapidly becoming a sought after act on the Americana scene. The album was officially released this past weekend and should be available soon on their website.