Title - The Parade
Artist - Peggy James
For those unaware, singer-songwriter Peggy James’ sixth album The Parade is out now and mixes five new recordings of previous songs with six songs written in 2021.
Simply put, The Parade is an album of quiet strength, fervent hope and unshakeable faith which stands on the strong shoulders of previous releases.
Much like her previous albums, many influences can be heard, yet The Parade refuses to be easily categorized. And yet, The Parade is rooted above all in the ballad and storytelling traditions of American country music.
As always, at the heart of album James’ voice, pure as a morning in spring, unafraid yet sensitive to the nuances of the words she sings (which is understandable, as she has written her own material since her recording career began).
1. I Go With Me
3. Thousand Reasons
4. Guardian Angel
5. Hard Times
6. Best In Me
7. So Subtle
8. Joan Of Arc
9. Indoor Cat
11. The Parade
This beautifully harmonious new album, that features common themes that recur throughout, opens on the gently rambunctious I Go With Me and the quietly countrified, baritone balladeering twang of Willow and backs those up with a quite magnificent Velvelettes-esque Thousand Reasons, the rolling, bountiful energy of Guardian Angel, and then we get the summery lushness of Hard Times and the lonesome ode of past roads taken within Best In Me.
Next up is wonderfully buoyant and joyful So Subtle and, for me, one of the highlights of this collection, Joan Of Arc (in which James pays homage to a quiet inner strength), and they are in turn followed by the immersive, resigned feline perspective captured within Indoor Cat, the album rounding out on the Americana of Crossroad Moment, closing on the robustly uplifting title track (which allows some excellently cultured slide guitar moments (from producer and longtime musical partner, Jim Eannelli) to come forth, much in the vein of the late, great George Harrison.
“Most of my inspiration for writing comes from observing people, places, events and my own life experiences,” Peggy says. “When something strikes me as interesting, I try to weave a story around it and become a character in the story that makes the idea come alive—like an actor would if given a part,” she continues.
“Then I know I’m ready to write it into a song. Usually, the words and the music pretty much appear simultaneously as a rough draft. Then I carve the song until I’m satisfied that the emotion, melody and words express what I intended it to. The first song on the album, I Go With Me is a perfect example of this process.”
Peggy accompanies herself throughout The Parade on acoustic guitar. Most of the other instrumental tracks were performed by her producer and longtime musical partner, Jim Eannelli, who endows the music with its genre-spanning scope.
Willow is old school country, not more than a few miles down the road from the Carter Family and other seminal country artists. Thousand Reasons, however, has the cadence of one of those great ‘60s hits that hovered somewhere between Nashville and the Top-40.
The title track, closing the album, is an anthemic rock song, the collection’s hardest, most electric track.
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