I had not heard of Joshua James before receiving the email from his PR firm. I read through the bio and the how the album came to be titled From The Top Of Willamette Mountain. It turns out Willamette Mountain is the name that James gave his Utah home and farm after it came to him a dream. I’m not going to lie you. I thought it was a tad hokey and went into the album not expecting to enjoy it.
As you would imagine, the music is rootsy in its nature. Were you expecting EDM from a buy who names his album after his farm? While I am not an expert of all things Damien Jurado, Willamette Mountain reminds me of Jurado’s excellent Maraqopa – which was also produced by Richard Swift.
The track Queen Of The City is microcosm of the album. James and Swift do a nice job of making big Americana. What is big Americana you ask? Taking what could be a simple basic folk song and fleshing it out to give lots of texture and nuances. Every spin is a treat as you really dig into the songs and make new discoveries. How it would translate live is another thing but on record, it is a delight.
Joshua James seems pretty passionate about his farm and that passion translates to his album. Its a great piece of work that is deeply personal and James, Swift and anybody associated with it should be proud.