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[Off The Record]
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Yorkshire-bred troubadour James William Hindle is a talented newcomer with a flair for melancholy pop ballads. Although he follows in the footsteps of British folk-rockers like Nick Drake and Richard Thompson, it was his mournfully tender cover of John Denverís "Whispering Jesse" (from the tribute album Take Me Back Home, compiled by Red House Painters frontman Mark Kozelek) that brought him to the attention of the San FranciscoĖbased Badman label and producer Dylan Magierek.

Building on that promise for his affecting debut, Hindle relies on little more than a brushed snare (courtesy of American Music Clubís Tim Mooney) and a cello to accompany his relaxed acoustic strumming and delicate voice. Setting a plaintive tone with the opener, "Down & Able," he creates an atmosphere of intimacy and longing that bears no trace of gushy sentimentalism. Whereas the string-laden "Remember My Markings" speaks to his ever-present humility ("I need you to think that Iím better/Even though Iím not"), sparse tracks like "Brooklyn Song" and the beautifully orchestrated "Masks" command a confident, poetic lyricism. Tastefully embellished with pedal steel and fiddle, "The List of You & Me" drives a little harder. And on the discís cuddliest moment, ex-Tarnation singer Paula Frazer lends her exquisite harmonies to the alienated love anthem "Sparky Marcus." Still, Hindle canít resist a good cover song when he hears it: his countrified rendition of Glen Campbellís "Less of Me" and a personal take on the Bee Geesí "I Started a Joke" are revelatory.


Issue Date: November 15 - 22, 2001

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