James Jackson Toth

Waiting in Vain

4 pulses

Waiting in vain feels pretty good. Usually I don’t like waiting around much, but then again, sometimes I get in an almost bittersweet self-loathing mode. At these times, it’s easier to pass the time entertaining the hope that something good will occur, even if you know there is little or no likelihood that it will. So it goes.

As I listen to James Jackson Toth’s debut solo album, I find myself in a contemplative mode. The music demands it. The songs move at an easy pace that reminds me of the type of nights where I have moments to remember how many amazing women I have let slip away, or how many good opportunities I have blown. I am definitely somewhat depressed.

Since my only escapes are my small speakers, a few books, and the patterns my mind makes within the shadows on the walls, it’s easy to let the music invade me. And this music will invade. Creepy and gentle, somber and mellow, this is not music for any 15-year-old teeny-boppers. Despite having traditional backbeats, familiar sounding melodies, basic electric folk-rock instrumentation, familiar production styles, and possibly a little bit too much compression, the songs are not built on catchphrases or cheap hooks.

Lead vocals are blended beautifully with male and female voices that really sound perfect together. Actually, all of the production on all the instruments in all of the songs sounds really excellent. Producer, engineer, mix engineer, and keyboard player Steve Fisk really did an excellent job on this 12-song album. I would get him to produce my album if I could. I would also give considerable credit to the arrangers. The songs really work well to convey feelings. They may make you feel old and lonely and like you should be having a drink in a bar by yourself; but more importantly, they create emotion.

Overall, I would have to highly recommend this album. Although, due to lack of “singles,” I do not see it having a tremendous amount of mass popular success; I see it as a powerful example of the raw emotions that so much of today’s music misses. For album lovers, it’s pretty excellent as a continuous piece if you are in the mood for something that is laidback and thought provoking. It contains songs that would make amazing soundtracks to a billion scenes in a billion movies. The words demand that you think and the sound is well done. I hope more music like this comes from out of our generation.


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