James Hollingsworth,
Coming Home to Stay
(independent, 2007)

One thing you have to say about James Hollingsworth; he's nothing if not sincere. His opening song, "Sooner or Later," says that when we look around, we see everything's going to hell and ...

it's hard to imagine how things will get better
without feeling like an idealistic fool
who's gone and traded dreams
for what's before his eyes
who sooner or later, has to get wise.

So maybe it's hard to feel optimistic, but that's only because we aren't wise and, according to Hollingsworth, we're on the road to wisdom. Other songs proceed down this same path. "Still Lights Up the Rain" has the speaker declare that he and his love are sitting in the Garden of Eden, which is, by the way, "overgrown by years of neglect" but ...

as I raise my eyes to Heaven
to take in the air and breathe in the sight
forgiveness shows the brightness
in a very different light
'Cause it still lights up the rain.

Hollingsworth loves the big statement. In "You're Not the Only One," he remembers the "opening words of love" that came when God looked down from above, but left the speaker on his own, only to be blessed and told by God that he is not the only one. Hollingsworth also loves ballads; most of his songs are slowly paced and very, very earnest.

I'm emphasizing the lyrics because, frankly, that's about the best thing James Hollingsworth has to offer. If you respond to the single-minded sincerity and earnestness of his music, you'll probably like this CD. Me? Well, I found myself longing for Hollingsworth to relax, maybe laugh a little.

[ visit the artist's website ]

review by
Michael Scott Cain

16 August 2008

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