Hailing from Lenox, NC Jimmy Atkins is a pastor, songwriter and storyteller. As a musician he has been working for two years on his recent release The Pen & The Page. The Pen & The Page is a good album that is a couple degrees away from exceptional. There are some minor missteps which while debatable seems undeniable. Atkins’ music is kind of like Bon Iver’s if Bon Iver was more into mainstream singer/songwriter pop. Instead of Atkins embracing his folksy side, which is apparent he often chooses to go in the direction of mainstream viability.
Atkins is a good some might say great singer. He has a warm voice that has intrinsic qualities I think most people will enjoy. He is also an inventive guitar player at times. I should also point out that Atkins’ songs are sometime coated with the glaze of that epic, glorious often overboard climaxes that a lot of Christian music possesses - sort of a condensed version of Sunday worship.
The album starts with “Try.” There is no doubt the first twenty-five seconds are excellent. Atkins’ voice and the sparse instrumentation were all that was needed to make the song great. Once the loud drums come into the picture I was already thinking this was already more then the song needed. Luckily, the song never does go overboard in a grandiose way. Overall, the song is still one of his best and certainly enjoyable.
“Seasons Changing” is a solid track. The mix of guitar, organ, drums and vocals is some of the warmest instrumentation you will hear on the album. My only complaint is the lyrics on the chorus felt too simplistic and kind of corny and cliché. He sings, “You’re the only one who make me, the only who breaks me, you're the only who takes how I really am.” A little bit of poetic ambiguity would have faired well here.
“Arise” is the type of song you might hear on Sunday morning at church if the band was really good while “Tense” is a melancholy song that was a personal highlight. Atkins closes with “Calls from the Sea” which any way you slice it the best song on the album. This should be the style and tone he builds his future foundation from. Everything from the lyrics to the strings is fantastic.
The Pen & The Page has its mishaps but overall is enjoyable. There are a number of inspired moments that I will be revisiting in the not too distant future.
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