Even two months after its release, The Willows by Adam James is still stupefying listeners. Each new listen unearths another tender dimension to James’ distinctive, unparalleled music, from the production that places listeners right on the beach at the peak of summer to his sun-kissed, Conor Oberst-esque vocals.
Ten songs and 41-and-a-half minutes fly by way too quickly under James’ watch. The intro to each song feels like an awakening, a fist to the soul propelling it to snap out of the hypnosis that life’s hurdles have manifested. A perfect example of this is the opener, “Shrug,” where glossy synths flutter and delayed drums pounce while James sends a warning to a potential partner to get out before he sucks them in and ruins their life.
To truly feel something, turn up “Tangled up in You,” and become undone by the soft, tear-jerking guitars and strings alongside James’ simultaneously melancholy and entrancing storytelling.
There’s never a point when anything goes wrong. The spellbinding sounds mirror that of Americana duo Sunny Bones while James carries the voice and intricate world-building of Bright Eyes into the present day. At no point will anyone stop and ask for more — because this album holds everything.
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