POSSESSED BY PAUL JAMES – THERE WILL BE NIGHTS WHEN I'M LONELY

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There Will Be Nights When I’m Lonely is my first significant foray into Possessed By Paul James’ music. I asked around to more veteran ears to see how they thought it compared to his earlier work and the consensus seemed to be that this album was his most accessible, not necessarily the most polished, though maybe, but the one that was most easiest to latch on to. So if you’ve only listened to PPJ in passing it’s time to give the music some serious attention. There Will Be Nights… is Essential Listening.

The opening five seconds of “Hurricane,” the lead-off song, could be described as abrasive fiddle yet very quickly the fiddle reaches a beautiful wailing before sliding effortlessly into a crescendo of enthusiastic ecstasy that lasts, despite the often lyrical lapses into the grave elements of life, throughout the entirety of the album. Musically there is a joy that perpetuates throughout sad times and happy days within these eleven songs. I’m a huge fan of The Staples Singers and find the desperation with which they sing their gospel songs to be riveting and life-affirming. There Will Be Nights... feels like a white-folks revival album, the kind of revival that could turn me from a sinner to a man living on the righteous path. “Songs We Used To Sing” most exemplifies The Staples Singers influence and I would pay good money to hear PPJ and Mavis Staple work up a version of this song.

One of the most impressive elements of this album is that it is entirely possible to listen passively and soak up the message of the music. Musically each song reinforces a belief in a higher power, while lyrically even the hardest moments of life are appreciated. This idea is most apparent in the chorus of “Heavy.” “This life can get heavy/oh so heavy/sometimes” is sung in a way that I visualize PPJ pulling away from the mic as he sings and the effect is the words almost feel like a blessing or thanksgiving for the hard times.

If you’ve read anything about this record you’ve probably heard that PPJ plays the fiddle, banjo, guitar and viola throughout the record, an impressive feat. Yet his vocal delivery is as important in capturing the emotion in the music as any instrument. Lyrically there are no stoic lines, yet there is not a single trite phrase. Gospel music, and I do consider this gospel, relies on accessible language and PPJ follows suit without falling into greeting-card phrases or sentiments. What this album is about and what I’m trying to say can all be found in “Sweet But Bitter Life.” It’s one of my favorite songs from the past year and causes chills and raised fists almost every time I hear it.

Essential Listening. No doubt.

Official Site, On Facebook, Buy There Will Be Nights…

Heavy
There Will Be Nights When I’m Lonely
Life

9 thoughts on “POSSESSED BY PAUL JAMES – THERE WILL BE NIGHTS WHEN I'M LONELY”

  1. I dug this album way more than Moreland’s or Isbell’s. This was top of the heap of ninebulletsy-alt-country-rock-songwriter albums for last year for me. “Where does all the time go” is where it’s at.

    Nice review, good to think of it in terms of Staples Singers/gospel

  2. SAME HERE!!! I still regularly listen to this album all the way through, and fucking love it!!! Not so sure my girlfriend still does (after hearing it at least 100 times), but that’s another matter lol

    PPPJ is incredible, and I’m so glad that I’ve found his music (& seeing him live was something I’ll never forget). I’ve got people into it from all sorts of different folks, my dad (mid-50’s) and grandmother (mid-80’s) were both quite impressed!

  3. Nicely said. I like that this one isn’t as polished as the previous record. It’s the best translation of his live performance so far for me.

  4. Awesome album. Really eye-opening for me. I’m sure this will make the PPJ purists mad, but I like this much better than Feed the Family (which I finally bought AFTER buying the new one). I’m struggling to find a good description of what separates the two albums but I’ll settle on saying that There Will Be Nights… is a bit more melodic and the whole album sets a particular mood (at least for me). For example, “Back down here on Earth.”

    1. I agree, having listened to each of his output as they came out, this album is his finest. There are 4 or 5 tracks which are too good to be allowed on one single album.

  5. Truly my favourite album from the past few years. Konrad’s singing grabs you and never lets go. The title track is insanely good.

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