Maxwell James has the soul of the poet and the swagger of a highwayman. Well, at least musically. I'm sure he doesn't rob people at roadside inns and at rest stops. I mean, that would be sort of cool and all, but he seems way too busy.
James's storytelling comes from a deeply-rooted place, full of brooding and pondering, but not so deep that he's drowning in his own glory. Oh no. His self-titled EP is one of my favorites of the year. The record has it all. From words to performance, James hooks you and keeps you. Not a hostage taking situation so much as an automatic bond. Instant fannery. I know that's not a word but I'm trying to make it happen. It also sounds like a word they'd use in Maxwell James's native Cardiff, South Wales where I imagine he created earlier work inside a T.A.R.D.I.S.
Let's talk about this new EP. James embodies sexy bluesiness on tracks such as "Roll Down Your Window Slowly." There's an audacious swank to "Feed My Evolution." He's undeniably radio friendly with "Blatantly" and "The More You Say, The Less I Know." Every track is well made and played.
He makes Americana look easy, but make no mistake Maxwell James is made of pure talent with a wee bit of magic and an eye for collaboration. It seems he has found the right head space and creates from there.
It's paid off, too. Nashville knows him well. The rest of the States are getting to know him as he cuts his way across the country, getting to know his audience. Hopefully, he won't, you know, fall to robbery and the like. But if he does go rogue, he's got a hell of a soundtrack.
"The More You Say, The Less I Know"
1. Roll Down Your Window Slowly
2. Feed My Evolution
3. The More You Say, The Less I Know
5. When It's Real
Maxwell James - Vocals, guitar
Jason Cheek - Drums, percussion
Chris Croce - Bass guitar
David Dorn - B3 organ, Wurlitzer electric piano
Scotty Murray - Electric lap steel guitar
Written by Maxwell James
Produced, engineered, mixed by John Behrens
Mastered by Cody Norris
Recorded at Farmland Studios, Nashville, TN