January 07, 2002

James William Hindle "James William Hindle"

It must be an utter bitch to be a folk singer. First, you have to fight that wholly nauseating yet seemingly legitimate coffee shop poet folkie stereotype. It seems like in the 90s, every yin-yang college undergrad English major type, who had read the Bible or Marx or Nietzsche or any other of the great texts/manifests developed this "thing" for caring/sharing/speaking their feelings/opinion/ART, and collectively decided to pick up a guitar and force their "art" upon fools who knew no better and high school kids, whichever came first. Of course, being in an environment such as an open mike night, it was okay to be mediocre, alright, thank you, you've been great, would you like to buy my tape? Who needs a band when I can suck intellectual ass on my own every night free of charge? Every community with half a population and a coffee house has about thirty too many of these types, and if you live in a college town, you'll get double the pleasure!

Then, there's the imitation factor. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery? Tell me, if you were Bob Dylan or Joan Baez or Carol King, would it really flatter you that every half-baked, half-lit 100 percent folkie twit wanted to be you, wanted to copy everything about your style is taking their divine inspiration from you, circa 20 years ago? I didn't think so.

Though it's tough to be a folk singer, some people insist on taking up the trade. God bless 'em for trying, though. James William Hindle is that man, and he is more than willing set aside jacket of folk mediocrity and simply sing his songs. Thus, his debut album, James William Hindle, focuses on his intentions as an artist. In true debut record style, though, the growing pains do stick out like a sore thumb. Hindle's case, it doesn't seem as if his singing and his accompaniment have made a love connection yet. It's kind of like watching a film with an out of sync voice track. He's also guilty of the crime of covering a standard, the Bee Gee's beautiful "I Started A Joke," a song that needs the beautiful three part harmonies to really capture the essence of the song.

Though James William Hindle falters here and there, it leaves open the wider possibility of something grander. Hindle has a nice, pleasing voice, and talented friends backing him up. Hindle also doesn't fall into the folk trappings mentioned above; he doesn't wear his influences directly on his sleeve, so that doesn't get in the way, but I sense touches of Tim Hardin and, of all things, Cracker/Camper van Beethoven. Then, there's that last track. Again, a cover, but this time, a more obscure cover, of Glenn Cambell's "Less of Me," a song of self improvement and selflessness. "Let me think a little more of others/And a little less of me." It's a selfless, humble song, and it's here that all of the elements of the record come together and produce pure beauty. At the very end of the track, you hear a person say "yeah, that's it," and that voice is totally right. This last song makes up for all of the flaws and imperfections of the rest of the record, and leaves you definitely wanting more. James William Hindle is a lovely, touching record of an artist whose promise shines through, even in its weakness.

--Joseph Kyle

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