"People who love to listen to music usually attach memories to certain songs or albums. The stronger the memories, the more intense the connection. That's why #1 was a shoe-in this year. There are so many memories tied to this album. That's not to take away from how well crafted each song is either. "Touch the Ground" many have heard me talk about as the "Beautiful Day" chill moment of the past couple of years for me - it's all about taking steps outside of the comfort zone. The album stretches that zone over and over and each time hits the mark, thus the album is diverse, but not erratic.
There's a subtle, very understated guitar outro to "Finally Home" with a bluesy-texture that weaves between the finger-picked bluegrass-ish feeling instrumental bed of the song that just works beautifully. "Writing on the Wall" - turn it up to a nice volume, start nodding your head, enjoy the perfectly placed harmonies, feel the acoustic start to pulse in your foot as it goes up and down - then imagine how amazing this would be as a summer radio song! (go to the myspace.com
link below and test this one out - simple!) "I Become" is a masterpiece - I remember first hearing this a day or so after it's conception, it was yet another side of his songwriting I saw.
Vocally you listen to this album and just marvel at the vocal clarity and tone of what has become a truly amazing voice - and when he harmonizes with himself it's breathtaking (see "Somewhere" and "Drip"). A new version of a "For(N)Ever," which was recorded a few years ago with his old band, is here. A song written about his mother, James does something brave and comes out with a gorgeous performance. In the original version, after the emotional vocal, the song went on for four minutes of emotional guitar soloing which to me always carried the majority of the emotional impact of the song. But now, the song has been shortened, ending after the vocal, and James now takes on all of the intense emotion vocally, over a soft acoustic background, and delivers an unguarded, raw, and open performance.
The album is essentially perfect in my book. Kudos also for featuring one of the dirtiest bass notes I can remember (see "Found").
If everyone could receive one musical gift for the holidays - my vote would be for a nicely wrapped copy of Fleeting, with the following words: "Experience the joy that real, true music can bring you."
Key tracks: "Touch the Ground," "Drip," "I Become," "Somewhere," "Writing on the Wall," "Heaven Sent"
- Brad Parmerter, FYE.com