Songs that stand out from the crowd via a unique voice and deft guitar skills.
James Meadow’s debut album builds on the legacy of 70s and 80s American folk-rock artists, but with one immediately obvious difference: Meadow’s voice, with its distinctive Italian accent, is distinctly non-American in tone. So, if you like your Americana with an accent that sounds at least passably American in tone, this may not be the album for you; if you are able to listen beyond that however, you might find a lot to like within this hidden gem.
Meadow (who also goes by Davide Falcone) has a degree in Anthropology and Contemporary World History, and thus the songs he writes tend to be peppered with references to the natural world and our place within it. On the opener, ‘If You Keep on Walking’, his vocals have a hard and nasal quality, an interesting contrast against the dreaminess of the lyrics musing on nature (“A flock of birds breathing through clouds / And bells turning fog into sounds / Freedom like a vertical flight / Changing thoughts and even sight / It’s hard to leave and hard to stay”).
Meadow is highly skilled at fingerpicking, and that handwork is showcased nicely throughout this jangly collection of songs, but it’s especially evident on the entirely instrumental ‘Snowy Silence’ (of which Meadow says he was looking to communicate “the stillness of a brittle, untouched mantle that fragments and shimmers in the light of an early sun”).
While most of the record strikes a gentle tone, with lyrics that are packed with heavy prose open to interpretation, there are exceptions: ‘Legacy’ is a confrontational song that looks at the corrupt state of the world today, and the disregard we have for things that aren’t happening close to ourselves (“There’s a bomb falling on a Syrian house / But outside your window the sun is still shining / Over there children are crying and running away / But here you spend another peaceful and quiet day”), and while ‘Holding the Future’ is softer to the ear, its lyrics tackle the equally thorny topic of refugees (“The man inside the camp asks to me / Why if God is on my side here I’m not free? / Please friend find me a job in this very town / ‘Cause you’re holding my future now”).
‘Entangled in Love’ is brighter and more optimistic when compared with the other material here, with Meadow singing of the joy of love (“And the world doesn’t stop in his motion goal / If I give a shape to my emotions flow / I could sing I’m entangled in love”), while ‘Turbulence’ (fittingly for a song addressing the complexities of the world around us and human emotions) is a little more on the experimental side musically.
On the album’s last track, ‘We’ll Meet in a Glance’, Meadow sings poetically on the final lines of meeting on an unnamed beach: “Someone will follow the swallows / And give voice to their sounds / The distance will be freedom / We’ll meet again in a glance.” And while the album is somewhat uneven at times, we’re still left to hope that we meet Meadow and his music again soon to see where the future takes him.