An exclusive first look at the new album from Possessed by Paul James
Of all the arts, music is decidedly the most expressive medium, combining sound and words as a means to confess sin, bemoan hardship, profess love, lament death, celebrate life, tell engrossing stories, acknowledge those who have played vital roles in one’s existence, and convey myriad other things significant enough to weave into the fabric of song. One singer/songwriter that knows this all too well, and also takes it to heart, is folk artist Konrad Wert, better known as Possessed by Paul James. And one album which serves as a perfect example of this is the upcoming full-length by Possessed by Paul James, “There Will Be Nights When I’m Lonely,” on Hillgrass Bluebilly Records.
You see, Wert isn’t just a singer/songwriter, nor would he be solely defined as such; he is a husband, a father, a teacher, a friend, an individual, and many other things, in addition to being an artist. These things are inextricably linked to one another as intrinsic components of his character, hence the many and varied pieces of subject matter from which he extracts and then arranges his lyrics. And because he doesn’t separate his musical self from the other aspects of his life, the two seamlessly come together in his brilliantly penned compositions, in the wildly overcome way he manipulates sound from his instruments, and the sweaty passionate way he delivers line after line of soulful and emotive lyrics in torrents of musical wordplay. That’s why his songs exude life. That’s why they’re so damn powerful. And that is why they captivate the listener so. The song is but a reflection of the man.
This holds just as true for his upcoming album, “There Will Be Nights When I’m Lonely,” the very worthy successor to his 2011 landmark full-length “Feed the Family” on Hillgrass Bluebilly Records. Not only consistent but ever-evolving as both an artist and human being, Wert has again given fans what they have come to expect from him over the years, and a little something more. With plenty of strumming and finger-picking and foot-stomping, with a good deal of auxiliary instrumentation from fellow artists, and of course with Wert’s wholly distinctive vocals, listeners will find themselves utterly absorbed from beginning to end, from the first notes of the energetic violin bowing and the first punctuating rhythmic thuds of the opener to the slow pickin’ and stirring vocal delivery of the closer. Somehow, his songs cast a spell over their listeners, compelling them to concentrate on every pick, pluck, strum, bang, tap, stomp, bow, grunt, and word sung…and in each case, the listeners can therefore appreciatively note the way all of these elements meet at the composition’s center in order to create a single body of stimulating sound.
As a multi-instrumentalist, Wert is able to build the most memorable musical constructs, some of them complex, some of them relatively simple, but all of them equally organic and inspired. “There Will Be Nights When I’m Lonely” evidences this level of exceptional artistry and ingenuity again and again, song after song: the troubadour’s poetry of the road, the family man’s endless joys and concerns, the folk singer’s unadulterated craft, the working man’s toil, and the many other things that are so much a part of life…real life…begging to be conjured by both instrument and voice. Such an artist lays it all on the line, spills his guts, shares the contents of his head and heart, unabashedly and unapologetically and uncompromisingly, and gives himself entirely to the song. He becomes the song; the song becomes him…until the point at which one simply cannot tell where one begins and the other ends. It’s a spiritual experience, of sorts. It is proof that the song can be transcended to become something more, something extraordinary and meaningful. And one cannot help but feel as though one has just experienced something truly great in having been exposed to it. Possessed by Paul James songs leave lasting impressions on those who listen to them, in other words, and I admittedly stand among those people.
Like “Feed the Family,” the release of “There Will Be Nights When I’m Lonely” is being taken care of by Hillgrass Bluebilly Records. As one of today’s leading roots labels Hillgrass Bluebilly has worked with some of the most respected and admired bands and singer/songwriters in the scene, like Ten Foot Polecats, Restavrant, Left Lane Cruiser, Tom VandenAvond, and of course Possessed by Paul James. And they have also worked hard to ensure that the new Possessed by Paul James album be available for pre-order starting today, October 1st, from Amazon, iTunes and the PPJ webstore.
Incidentally, Konrad Wert recently spoke with us regarding his new album, “There Will Be Nights When I’m Lonely,” in addition to several other relevant topics. Check out this exclusive video, “Teacher of the Year,” only here at No Depression.