|Great Willow||Find Yourself in Los Angeles|
|James Combs||September 15, 2017|
Great Willow — Find Yourself in Los Angeles (Sep 15, 2017) ■••■ GREAT WILLOW: think close knit harmony singing inspired by the best of the classic Laurel Canyon cosmic~American~music tradition. It’s its own thing but finds some inspiration in the music of folks like Gene Clark and Gram Parsons. “Beautiful Twang” we call it. But the songs are also contemporary and highly personal — like a box of sun~bleached family photos.
Location: Los Angeles, California
Album release: Sep 15, 2017
Record Label: James Combs
01 Many Things 3:16
02 Petaluma 3:00
03 Rear View Mirror 4:18
04 Find Yourself in Los Angeles 3:28
05 The New Normal 4:25
06 With Care from Someone 2:54
07 Time Bombs 3:40
08 Secretly Happy 3:05
09 No City Can Cure Me 3:14
10 Love Will Finally Find You 3:42
•• Ed Barguiarena — drums
•• James Combs — vocals, guitar, organ, bass
•• Erin Hawkins — vocals, cello
•• Rich McCulley — guitar, mandolin
■••■ with help from John Would, Nik Freitas, Kelly Atkins, Amy Wood, Max Beck, Probyn Gregory, Kevin Fischer, and Emily Weber.
■••■ All songs by James Combs except “With Care From Someone” by Gene Clark, Bernard Leadon, Douglas Dillard
■••■ Produced by John Would, Nik Freitas, James Combs
■••■ Mixed by John Would, Nik Freitas, Steve Kaye
■••■ Cover art by Natalie Wright (www.nataliewrighthome.com)
■••■ Featuring emotional, intricate harmony singing from James Combs and Erin Hawkins, Great Willow’s debut album “Find Yourself In Los Angeles” is inspired by the classic Laurel Canyon Cosmic American Music tradition, with some mariachi horns and psychedelic guitar freakouts thrown in for good measure. Poetic lyrics, cinematic landscapes. An LA story.
■••■ The songs on “Find Yourself in Los Angeles” are personal and full of imagery — margaritas and bees, dirty palm trees, dry river beds, taco stands and too much sunshine. This is “Beautiful Twang”, inspired in part by artists like Gram Parsons, Emmylou Harris, They Byrds and the solo work of Gene Clark. The sole cover song on the record is Great Willow’s masterful re~working of Dillard and Clark’s beautiful “With Care From Someone”.
■••■ “Find Yourself In Los Angeles”, produced by John Would (Fiona Apple), Nik Freitas (Maria Taylor) and James Combs, is a California song cycle detailing snapshots of a relationship that gets broken and sets off a move from Petaluma to Los Angeles … endless, dusty, washed out, beautiful LA — where you go to start all over again….
■••■ Lyrics from the first song on the album (and the first released single), “Many Things” set the tone:
■••■ “Without you — I’m a crooked tree
a crippled crow, a broken stone
the most wondrous thing I’ll ever see
you taught me many things…”
■••■ James Combs and Erin Hawkins of Great Willow have shared stages with the likes of Jackson Browne and Van Dyke Parks, and have had their songs featured in HBO’s “True Blood” and Showtime’s “Shameless.”
■••■ Great Willow also curates and co~hosts the Secret Bowl Music Series — house concert/picnic events featuring Country, Americana and Indie Folk under the trees in LA’s Beachwood Canyon. Guest artists have included Louise Goffin, Maria Taylor, Eleni Mandell, Blake Hazard, and Miranda Lee Richards.
■••■ “The perfectly combined voices of James Combs and Erin Hawkins is the stuff legends are made of … an incredible addition to any Americana library.” Indie Voice
■••■ “Excellent… the new sound of the West Coast.” — Americana UK
■••■ “ONE OF FOLK POP’S BEST KEPT SECRETS.” — LA weekly
■••■ “THE MISSING LINK BETWEEN LOW AND JOHN LENNON.” — Paul Lester, UK Guardian
■••■ “JAMES COMBS IS ONE OF LOS ANGELES’ BEST SONGWRITERS.” — Gary Calamar, KCRW, GO Music Supervion
■••■ Think close harmony singing inspired by the best of the classic Laurel Canyon “Cosmic American Music” tradition. Mariachi horns here. Psychedelic guitar freakout there. Mandolins and resonators. Timbales and accordion. Poetic lyrics, cinematic landscapes. It’s its own thing but finds inspiration in the music of Gram/Emmylou, Buffalo Springfield, Gene Clark (check out GW’s cover of “With Care From Someone”), Devotchka and Calexico. “Beautiful Twang” we call it. The songs are also contemporary and highly personal — like a box of sun~bleached photos.
■••■ Our debut album “Find Yourself In Los Angeles”, produced by John Would (Fiona Apple) and Nik Freitas (Maria Taylor), is a song cycle detailing snapshots of a relationship that gets broken and sets off a move to Los Angeles — endless, dusty, washed out, beautiful LA — where you go to start all over again. The title track snaps an image of life on arrival:
■••■ “Here you find yourself in Los Angeles
How do you make your way here in Los Angeles?
Looking up at dirty palm trees and cactus in the yard
In a neighborhood that you have never heard of
Can you make your name out on the little mailbox?
You’ve staked quite a claim out in Los Angeles”
■••■ GW’s James Combs and Erin Shawn Hawkins have shared stages with the likes of Jackson Browne, Van Dyke Parks, Maria Taylor (Azure Ray), Arthur Lee’s Love, Eleni Mandell, and Inara George and have had music featured in Showtime’s “Shameless” and HBO’s “Dexter”. James is also creator and co~host of the Secret Bowl Music Series — house concert events featuring Country, Americana under the trees in LA’s Beachwood Canyon.
■••■ Fun Factoid: James co~wrote (with Gary Calamar) the True Blood (HBO) end credit song “Let’s Boot and Rally,” a hard driving duet performed by the great Iggy Pop with Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino. The song was named one of Iggy’s “20 Greatest Collaborations” by Rolling Stone Magazine.
■••■ Drummer Ed Barguiarena is a film composer, producer, arranger. Rich McCulley is a songwriter and master of western guitar whose playing has blessed countless albums by LA luminaries. We can’t wait for you to hear “Find Yourself In Los Angeles.”
■••■ ED BARGUIARENA/ percussion
■••■ JAMES COMBS/ vocal & guitar, songwriting
■••■ ERIN HAWKINS/ vocal, cello, mandolin, accordion, & whistling
■••■ RICH McCULLEY/ guitar
Dave Clarke, Posted on November 13, 2017; Score: 8/10
■ In their debut album Great Willow have managed to recreate and update the sound of the California canyons in the sixties. The reference is there to the 60’s sounds of (amongst others) the Byrds and the singing of Gene Clark. Great Willow are James Coombs and Erin Hawkins, with their exquisite harmony singing and with them are Rich McCulley playing guitar, and Ed Barguirena on drums. And, throughout, the mariachi horns, providing what is, at times, almost a “Tex~Mex” feel.
■ Here is carefully presented a song cycle, describing in snapshots, three weeks in California, and the ebbs and flows of a relationship. The clever lyric writing that refers to the everyday tensions, suspensions and solutions can affect us all. All this takes place on a journey from Petaluma, in San Francisco, down the West Coast to Los Angeles. Four Hundred miles! But, this is not a road trip as such, rather the summation of impressions that lead you to finding yourself in L.A. and beyond! All through the feelings, the music, the singing, and the lyrics, you are picked up, and told thing or two.
■ This review is a subjective response to those impressions. If you listen carefully, you will benefit intrinsically, from what is one of the ultimate journeys on earth, down the West Coast of the United States. “You Taught me many things…” says the first track with James and Erin in perfect harmony, describing dependency in a relationship. “Without you I’m a crooked tree, a crippled crow.” Such lyrics here, and throughout the album, hold the listener actively.
■ Petaluma, “from the sunshine” starts the journey, with reference to “a hole in time,” and “99” and glimpses: “a washed out grassy hillside,” a bike ride, a farm, and “all the boards, dry as a bone.” Rear View Mirror (“I was passing through. I was never there”) is a pluckingly insistent track with great lead guitar noting that, on a journey, you are aware of a lot of towns after you have passed through them! Track 4 is the title track. Los Angeles is a place to find yourself in. Mariachi style playing and references to Pizarro and Magellan. A place where “you will do just fine.”
■ The New Normal is the longest track on the album, a song that works because of its singing, and the phrasing, with internal rhymes and repetitions: “I sat in the bed of a dead river from long ago/ To see if its old flow could show what I don’t know.” Simple thoughts yet moving and thoughtful insights. Worthy of many careful listenings. And this is followed by their version of Gene Clark’s With Care from Someone. Erin and James’ rendition compares more than favourably with that of Gene Clark and Doug Dillard all those years ago. And the banjo figures too!! This is really the part of the album’s suite that deals with restitution and solution, from “my aching heart” to swinging freely as one!
■ The last four tracks confirm the richness and depth of the album. Just listen to James’ lyrics and voice in Time Bombs, Secretly Happy and No City Can Cure Me. The consideration of the ups and downs of life is all here with a final quiet realisation and resolution: “Looks like a good time to start all over again” when “Love Will Finally Find You.” Excellent. Summary: Take Note of the new sound of the West Coast of America
CD Baby: https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/greatwillow3
|Great Willow||Find Yourself in Los Angeles|
|James Combs||September 15, 2017|