REVIEW: Jim Wyly’s “The Artisan” is a Beautiful Collection From a Master

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Jim Wyly’s long-awaited album, The Artisan, is a beautiful collection of songs from a master of the craft. Wyly cut his 11- track solo debut with the aid of engineer Justin Douglas at King Electric Studio in Austin, Texas. Chuck Hawthorne, a fellow songwriter, earned his first producer credit working on this album with Wyly. On top of Wyly’s fingerpicked guitar and smooth vocal delivery, Ray Bonneville provides additional color with his harmonica, Libby Koch accompanies Wyly with elegant vocal harmonies, and violin virtuoso Javier Chaparro sets the tone for several songs with his subtle, strong performance.

Listeners who want to hear stripped down numbers that focus on voice and lyrics will love this album. Considered a master writer by his peers, Wyly’s songwriting is informed by over 40 years working in the field. Having long played in Austin bands such as The Lunar Rollers and Movin’ Target, Wyly decided it was finally the time to take a step back and release his own original album. Most of the songs feature minimal instrumentation outside of Wyly’s acoustic guitar and vocals, with occasional light-percussion thrown in along with the session players.

The jovial nature of love songs like “Nobody Lights My Heart Like You” stand up against the more somber numbers like “Mr. Snowman,” “Suddenly I’m Single,” and “I Don’t Wanna Be There.” In juxtaposition to these feelings of hopelessness, “Someone’s Gonna Love You” is a glimmer of hope for someone down on their luck, and “Coyotes of Legend” is a defiant battle cry against the weight of the world around him. Swampy, blues influences define the landscape of “You Took Me” and “Red Water River Queen,” both songs where the narrator makes poor decisions out of lust. Wyly’s interest in modern folklore comes out in his cryptozoological odes, “Wildman of the Thicket” and “Please Nessie.” Few people write songs about mythical beasts in contemporary songwriting, and it’s incredibly commendable that Wyly can dictate them without coming off corny or crazy.

“The Artisan,” the album’s title track and closer, is Wyly telling his story from the lens of a craftsman. Taking time to do his job properly, and with eyes and ears for the world around him, the artisan creates a pure, unique creation that only he could. The closing line sends it home, “his greatest gift of all is his humility.” After 40 years in the music industry without releasing a solo project, this number shows Jim Wyly feels fortunate to have had such a career, and honored to have fans and listeners who want to hear what he has to say. Get your copy at www.jimwylymusic.com

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