Anytime I’m asked to review a singer-songwriter’s record a sympathetic harshness comes over me and I feel the need to give more of a fine tooth comb listen to the album than I would to an album that has a supporting cast to it. I think to myself why would anyone seek to go it alone? Why for god sakes would anyone want to sit alone for hours and hours and try to turn their feelings into something they think anyone would want to listen to? Rarely if ever do I come up with an answer. If my pseudo-sarcasm hasn’t transferred any meaning at this point I am speaking directly of the current “I” who is typing these words. Surely if anyone is fit to pass judgment on a singer-songwriter then shouldn’t it be someone who in some capacity has worn the other’s shoes? Thankfully I have an editor to fall back on, to shield me from sounding too stupid.
However the singer-songwriter, lest he seeks help or has a producer who is willing or smart enough to speak his mind (though often in the case of the unsigned the producer just records the music and takes his money) must rely on his wiles and take what he has wrought in the end, be it received good or bad.
Such is the life so far for Ohio born singer Jim Vest. His latest record The Big Sleep is in many ways his most ambitious to date. On his previous efforts 2012’s Another Cliche' Phrase and 2014’s It Is What It Is, Cause' It Is Vest, who was just getting his footing as solo artist after spending time playing in local Ohio bands, opted for the straight forward approach, using only his guitar and vocals as his main means of making music.
On The Big Sleep, a somewhat happier approach to his sadness, Vest approaches the solo genre from a new perspective, often shying away from just the acoustic muse, opting for strings and other effects, which give The Big Sleep a richer effect while still keeping the eerily haunting lyrical effect which Vest’s lyrics habituate.
The Big Sleep represents a step up in the songwriting skills of Jim Vest and sees him working away from the often sad and dopey single stringed troubadours and bringing in more instrumentation. It’s a welcomed change from the desultory singer-song writer record and it puts Vest in a new and well-deserved light, no matter how dark some of his songs may be.
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