June 25, 2003

James William Hindle "Prospect Park"

With Prospect Park, British folkie James William Hindle upps the ante raised by his good but slightly awkward debut EP, James William Hindle. His debut was a pretty yet not particularly definitive collection of songs that highlighted a young man who, given a little bit of maturity, could make a strong, cohesive musical statement. It seemed as if Hindle needed something--an undefined "something"--to make his already good songs better. The help of Paula Frazer wasn't enough to make Hindle's songs stand out, and save for a cover of "Less of Me," James William Hindle was a little bit of a disappointment.

Turns out, all he needed was a good backing band. For Prospect Park, Hindle enlisted the talents of the Ladybug Transistor army, with Jeff Baron, Sasha Bell, Gary Olson assisting, as well as Aden's Kevin Barker, The Sunshine Fix's Neil Cleary, among others. This soft-rock wrecking crew add the melodic dimension that was sorely lacking from his debut. Their arrangements don't differ too much from the rewarding Ladybug Transistor/Essex Green formula, and Hindle's voice really suits their homespun pickin' and grinnin'. Luckily, though, they never sound terribly retro, and songs such as "The Great Woodland Summer" and "Shadows Cast A Lie" are wonderful examples of modern folk-rock. The entire album has a breezy, West Coast summer feel to it, making it pleasant listening for parties and lazy rainy days; occasionally, there's a bit of sameness in the songs, but it's nothing that would make you turn it off.

Though James William Hindle is still growing as an artist, he's certainly a talent that will, over time, become a stronger, more consistent songwriter. Prospect Park is a major step forward for Hindle. Let's hope that this improvement isn't too heavily reliant on his backing group, because at the rate he's going, greatness is but one album away. A fine summer day album from a young but daily growing talent.

--Joseph Kyle

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