James McGrath is an independent artist from Edmonton, Alberta ,who has finally achieved his dream of putting together a full-length album. He’s been playing music and performing for years, but only on a casual basis. Much the same as many people in his position, time was a factor. He just wanted to get this done, so he put all other activities aside and gave his all to the music. It truly shows. While he views this as ‘rough around the edges’ because of the speed at which he recorded it, I see it more as raw and honest. It’s simple, but his talent shines through because of that. There are no cheap effects or gimmicks. It’s just him singing and playing to a great standard.
Chaos Theory is McGrath’s latest 12-track release and it opens with “The Tale of a Phoenix” a minimalistic track at heart. McGrath’s vocals belt out a melody atop a gently-strummed, acoustic guitar pattern. This is the good example of simplicity. Sometimes effects and complexity can be beautiful, but sometimes something as simple as a man with a guitar can be incredibly passionate and intoxicating.
“Lost Not Found” continues the acoustic-driven sound, though a slight pattering of electric guitar shines quietly through the mix. McGrath restrains his brutally powerful vocals a little on this song, instead opting for gentle, soft beauty. I enojying the depths of this sweet, succulent track when the pattern unexpectedly altered for a beautiful little of a chorus in the center of the track.
The title track “Chaos Theory” is an emotional, acoustic-driven track. A sad, nostalgic, reflective track opens the slightly longer piece, falling in around the four-minute-mark, as McGrath’s vocals wail in a heart-breaking way. I’m a big fan of acoustic music and numerous solo musicians, but it’s rare that solo music can project so much raw energy. Often it’s a quiet, intimate affair. Here, McGrath shows us an intimate part of himself. The ending was truly a highlight for me.
This is an enjoyable piece of work and McGrath should be proud that he achieved all this during such a short recording session. The rawest talent doesn’t need weeks or months of editing. I look forward to seeing what he comes up with next.
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