Here is a little factoid you might not know about me: my middle name is actually James. This naturally makes me the foremost expert on all things Aaron James related, so it’s no surprise I get to review Caught in the Corner of a Half Moon by Aaron James. (*Side note* It was really aggravating doing online research about Aaron James because Google kept thinking I was asking about myself.)
The first thing you notice on the five-song EP is the production value of the first song, “AJ.” It’s scratchy and warbles and sounds like it was recorded on a 4-track. What’s weird is that once the second song kicks in, the production value is bumped up to professional studio levels. Now, I’m curious as to James’ reasoning behind this. I actually enjoyed the low-fi version of the first song. It obviously helps that it’s just James on the guitar, singing sweetly in falsetto ala a mix of Neil Young and Joel Plaskett. It’s a very intimate opening for the album, and clocks in at a measly 1:36. This is the song I listened to the most. Oh well, all good things must come to an end, I suppose.
Once the second song “The Wile” kicks off, the listener is transported to a more heady space. The rumble of the tom-driven drums is vintage Fleetwood Mac; the steady and succinct backup harmonies do nothing to dispel that notion, either. The form is relatively simple, with the guitar following a predictable pattern, but the song hits all those good notes so I cannot fault it. The whole album follows the same blueprint for the song writing. Each song builds and swells and brings you along quite nicely to the payout.
The album is scattered with subtleties as well. During “Paper Balls” it’s the little things that make the song, from the classy placement of the violin to the barely-noticeable-but-oh-so-beautiful choir echo of “got some use” during the second chorus. There is also a nice use of soft, quick clapping during the second verse of “The Wile” that deserves mention.
What I found lacking, however, was the lyrical content. The words themselves didn’t excite me and were at times banal and cliche. The cadence was good, but it lacked a certain type of poetic play. For a band that leaves a lot of focus for the vocals, the product felt flat.
All in all, I enjoyed the album. I’m still incredibly curious as to the choice of low-fi for the first song, though. Which style do you prefer, dear reader? Hit me up in the comments and let me know.
Written by Aaron Deck
*edited by Kate Erickson