The aptly named, and visually unassuming Portland singer/songwriter James Low’s venture The James Low Western Front (Tim Huggins, bass/vocals; Dave Camp, guitar/vocals; Joe Mengis, drums) has released a video that sets the tone for their upcoming release “Whiskey Farmer.”
The moody, urban look echos the visual style of Micheal Mann and follows an everyman (played by James Low) on a journey to a sunnier place (as depicted on the sign) and one of existential self-discovery. On the surface “Thinking California” concerns the most obvious journey, the geographic variety. But as the title suggests Low evokes forlorn vocals to traverse physical geography as a metaphor for emotional and physiological climes.
The lonely western style of the song song stands in contrast to Low’s image in the video. I imagine a Stetson-sporting, dusty, bearded hardscrabble sort playing his acoustic in the back of a classic Ford truck not the invisible man shown here. I believe it extends this kind of music back to it’s folk, music for all, roots.
This is not what most people think of when the words pop-country are applied, but that’s what it is. Somewhere the ghosts of Gram Parsons and Mickey Newbury haunt the edges of the song.