have always seen myself as an artist, not just an
entertainer. I am more comfortable in blue jeans and a
flannel shirt than in rhinestones and sequins. “
~James Talley from his liner notes.
is a quality to the music of James Talley. It’s a quiet and
honest style. It comes with a lyrical veneer, which rightly
has Talley tagged as an Americana pioneer. It’s a style,
perfected over a time span counted in decades rather than
years. For the fans, and there are many, Talley continues
his simple and observational look at life, love, God and the
American way with his latest, Heartsong. And, just
like his earlier and heralded back catalogue, it doesn’t
disappoint. The reason is simple enough. The album has a
heart and it has soul.
am first and foremost a writer,” says this Oklahoma born
troubadour. And across this album – his first new project in
10 years – his 16 life-soaked tracks lend positive fact to
the claim. There’s no Nashville conveyor belt urgency to the
writing here; rather, Tally does as he’s always done – he
delivers music that is blessed as being inspirational and
As he tells in his
liner notes, “My inspiration has always come from the
people, from their lives, their struggles – of which there
are many…it’s often late in our lives before we truly learn
what is really important and of value.”
To précis this
album: It’s comes finely crafted with Talley’s rich and
emotive baritone, pulled together into a prized and
listenable piece of work. But the richer reward for the
discerning listener will rest in repeated playing, as it’s
there the music, the writing, the shade and toning, and
Tally’s keen ear and eye of what really matters comes
Can’t Kill Love” is a catalogue of human efforts to change
the will of man, but as Talley shares, love may be tested
but it can’t be discarded. It’s much like the universal
family truth: “When Mamma Ain’t Happy” then nobody is happy.
The fiddle-rich tale of the good life when your mother is
beaming highlights, again, the clean and sharp playing of
the well-chosen and seasoned players in the band.
Tally has been
making music, deep, spirited and ponderous since 1975. That
lyrical trademark is evident again here.
They Really Different?” is a paused and tempered tune. It
looks at the universal possibilities that people everywhere
share the passions, hopes and dreams that bond the human
But to analyse
Talley’s Heartsong, track by track, is wasted respect
to this fine and talented performer. My take, my feel, my
view on the lyrical storytelling is exactly that – my take.
You need your own experience. When you listen to tracks like
the keen and atmospheric “Santa Fe Blues”, or the bluesy
“Cold Blooded Killers”, with it’s tale of significant deceit
and treachery, or the ache of a love lost on “When It Was A
Love Affair” you hear a talent with a message. It’s a
message not such much for the masses, but rather for
individuals prepared to listen.
Tally’s music, like
his well-told tunes, is stylish and individual. If you want
open and honest music that will take the test of time, if
you want an artist, not just a performer, look to
Heartsong and James Talley.
A deserved double
thumbs up from me.
It is out now on