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The voice of Maxwell James is both soulful and direct while carrying something of a sneering bite in his delivery. A singer-songwriter originally from Cardiff, South Wales, but now living in Nashville, James offers a particular perspective on Americana with his new self-titled EP. One couldn’t quite be bold enough to call it authentic, but it does come from a place with deep affection and respect for the genre making it as close as possible to authentic for all intents and purposes. The five songs inhabit a space pioneered in recent years by revivalists such as Jack White and Alabama Shakes, and James comfortably stands his ground given the giant shoes with which he has to fill.
The songs vary between two seemingly disparate sides of his character—both the extrovert and the introvert. From the raunchy, anthemic quality of “Roll Down Your Window Slowly” to the subdued and personal “When It’s Real,” James excels at capturing either side of love’s personality and the multitude of ways it expresses itself. The top heavy nature in which the EP is built makes it feel like a party that begins explosively and brimming with life, and ends intimately with a few friends by the fire. Consequently, Maxwell James manages to pack a wide array of human emotion into a very short release, making it a compelling listen from the beginning.
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