In his latest pair of singles, “Little Star” and “Helplessly I Fell,” singer/songwriter Jim Lord bucks the alternative trend and gets back to the basics of making quality folk-rock devoid of bombastic fluff. In “Little Star,” we get to know a softer Lord, resembling James Taylor in his sincere drawl, while in “Helplessly I Fell,” the confessional side of his persona overtakes the accessibility of his poeticisms. Both are incredible looks into the soul of a terribly underrated performer and composer, and for my money, they’re some of the best folk numbers I’ve had the chance to check out in the last few weeks.
The guitars are undisputedly the true star of the show in “Helplessly I Fell,” but they don’t overwhelm the vocal track in the mix with so much grandeur that Lord’s words become inconsequential to the narrative at hand. He’s particularly good at weaving together a lot of intricacies into a single composition, and in this song, we get front row seats to an especially vulnerable performance on his part. His instrumentation is as much the chill-inducer as any of his verses are, and that simply cannot be said about most of the chart-topping ballads I’ve listened to lately.
“Little Star” is definitely the vocal showcase between the two of these singles, and for what I look for in a modern ballad, it’s a good standard for Lord’s younger rivals to try and live up to in their own work. There’s a shortage of provocative, vocal-driven folk music in the American spectrum nowadays, but not because of a lack of interest in the style. Most artists are wary of becoming tied to the so-called ‘retro’ movement in the underground, but I really like that Lord isn’t letting the politics of his competitors prevent him from making the kind of music he wants to record.
There’s an angst-ridden sensibility to “Helplessly I Fell” that is only moderately hinted at (in an ironic fashion) in “Little Star,” and I would love to hear Jim Lord dig a little deeper on this front in his future releases. He’s coming undone by the time we get into the midway point of this track, and through his willingness to disrobe the hard shell that he initially presents the audience with at the start of the song, it’s made all the easier for listeners to let their collective guards down and subsequently let him in.
Jim Lord isn’t new to the underground spotlight, but from where I sit, I think he’s one of the greater diamonds in the rough active today. “Little Star” and “Helplessly I Fell” show us the depth of his maturity at this juncture of his career, and although there’s always room for an artist to continue growing alongside the sound they’ve created for themselves, his is a style that I wouldn’t tweak a whole lot between now and his next trip to the recording studio. He’s got everything going for him here, and as I always say, why would you mess with success?
by Bethany Page
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