Here’s a review from UK Online Magazine Smallprint
New Music: James Irwin – Western Transport
Before I start please forgive me as the following may come across as selfish, a bit pretentious and quite a lot ungenerous.
Although an unpopular opinion and one that might cause a few to sit agitated, I find there is something very beautiful, comforting and romantic about ‘the unknown folk artist’, one who remains undiscovered, exists well out of the public eye and fails to gain the attention they truly deserve. It’s not that I don’t ever want him/her to become recognized by mainstream audiences, now that would be selfish and I definitely wouldn’t be a good ambassador for running a website like this where I promote new artists and music. However it’s more of an ode to the struggling artist; vocals are fragile, lyrics are honest, instrumentals are delicate and the listeners relationship with the artist is strong and flourishing with every listen. Due to the struggling artist’s limited audience, the connection between the artist and listener is enhanced tenfold and lyrics resonate far further than a mainstream artist could ever dream of. With todays internet so rife it’s not terribly hard for an artist producing good, interesting new music to gain recognition of some kind, but for some reason it’s always the folk artists who fall by the wayside with this rule. Unbunny and Siskiyou have created some of my favourite records but haven’t made that success breakthrough that they oh-so deserve. It’s this ongoing struggle for folk artists that I will always strangely cherish but at the same time dearly wish it would pass so they can gain what they deserve.
Alongside Unbunny and Siskiyou, James Irwin fits a similar mold of the unknown folk artist. But this is far from saying that these artists are all the same, oh no! James Irwin has accomplished a stunning and beautifully refreshing debut that I just know will continue to grow in personality with every listen and will no doubt end up on my favourites of 2012 list. James’ vocals are the star of the show for me. Naked, honest and echoing the likes of Robin Pecknold and Arthur Russell it’s easy to see why I’m in love with this record. With many tracks carrying that sense of melancholy that I adore, it’s also nice to see songs like ‘Bluedust’, ‘Halfway to Mexico’ and ‘Nothing at All’ carrying optimism and a brighter quality. Western Transport is a rich and lush sounding production with James’ employing many friends to help contribute to this expansive sound including the likes of accordion, synth, clarinet, saxophone, french horn, viola, bowed bass, piano and slide guitar as well as the standard guitar, bass and percussion set up. ‘Western Transport’ is only available for download right now, it’s well worth checking out James Irwin’s website for all these details, and also for staring at the album artwork for a good few minutes. It’s just lovely.
Stream James Irwin’s ‘Western Transport’ via Bandcamp!