James Low and his band The James Low Western Front have created something rare, a concept album that actually works. Both lyrically and musically.
The persona “Whiskey Farmer” is depicted by James Low on the album cover, and during his trials he sometimes reminds me of Michael Douglas character in “Falling Down“. Though without the violent streak (as far as we know).
James Low describes the Whiskey Farmer like this:
«He has always done things kind of right- did OK in school, went to a generic college, racked up a shitload of debt, and got a job to pay off the debt. He drinks to forget. He alienates the ones who love him best, and just cannot believe that this is all there is to life.»
Making a concept album has all the potential in the world to fail miserably. At the same time, if it works out – it has the potential to grow beyond it’s own merits and be better than intended.
I’m not saying that this is as good as the mighty Truckers brilliant Southern Rock Opera, which is one of my favorite concept albums of all time. But James Low has gotten everything right here. You actually get the character, you believe in him – and feel his frustration.
He’s stuck in his own miserable life, and he has thought that same thought most of us have; “Is this really it? Is this what the rest my life is going to be like?“.
Then he actually tries to change things around, to get control back over his own life and destiny. I won’t reveal too much of the backstory, as this would destroy much of the fun of actually letting the Whiskey Farmer telling you himself.
But I’ll say this: If you’re into good lyrics, and enjoy real storytelling – this album is really worth checking out. The lyrics are great, and the band really kicks ass.
James Low will also continue to build this character in the months to come, by releasing videos where you can take part in how the persona evolves.
The first video “Thinking California“: