This one goes back to the earliest folk/folk-rock days of the Village Vanguard and such, when Paxton, Van Zandt, Dylan, Rush, Rose, Baez, Hardin, and the progenitors were walking the Earth as young Turks (and Turkettes). No, James Apollo isn't some long-forgotten composer who slipped between the cracks of history, he's a young'un, but he does possess a raw-ish talent that thrives rather well in mostly stripped-down circumstances. Even when the instrumentation wells up, as in Paved Love, the songs are redolent of days when the sun was shining on the 60s. and inventiveness was encouraged while ardently embracing the old line.
When I say 'stripped down', don't get me wrong. I ain't talkin' 'bout one guy, one guitar, and one harmonica but instead a more subtle than usual use of varying combinations of 13 other musicians, all of whom provide atmosphere rather than chops (and either there's an uncredited accordionist in the group or John Tomlinson has very coolly tricked out his organ to approximate one). Part of the reason for the ancient-of-days feeling in 'Til Your Feet Bleed is a compositional technique that's smartly madrigalian on a number of cuts. As the promo RIYL avers, there's a Nick Cave / Tom Waits feel, but Apollo is rootsier. Not that Tom 'n Nick aren't, but James is closer to the germ seeds. I keep wanting to compare him to James Isaak (here and here), another solo wunderkind, but the stylistic differences are significant enough that I can't. Still…
There's a lot of mood here, atmospheres of thought, reflection, and regret mixed with hope and a 'pick yourself up and keep trudging' sentiment, hence the CD's title. No East, No West, a really choice cut, drives this home in no uncertain terms, and Long Way Around evokes the milieu of a forlorn abandoned vaudeville theater since gone to dust and decay, with one timelocked minstrel resident, longing for the glory days, knowing they'll never come again. In fact, there's a lot of that here, so don't expect to go dancing when you're done with the CD. Most likely, you'll just sit by the window and heave a big sigh…but you'll have a wistful smile as you do so.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2010, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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