I first came across Reverend Jim for his winning performance in Ukulele Festival of Scotland’s Rising Stars Competition, where he showcased his songwriting craft. After seeing the real-life teddy bear at GNUF, he gifted me an album to review:
The highlight on this album is the songwriting, with many of his hooks being memorable and engaging to compensate for Jim’s untrained vocals. Thematically he varies from reminiscing over childhood memories, to summertime tropes, to the trials of Episcopalians, giving a little bit of something for everyone. One thing which impressed me is that Jim-an actual reverend- never appears too preachy in his music, leaving most of his songs open for interpretation.
I like the use of instrumentation, particularly the electric guitar and the double bass that make themselves known throughout the album, whereas acoustic tracks like ‘On An Island’ highlight the vulnerability in Jim’s performance.
My personal favourite song is ‘The Bottom Rung’. Discussing the challenges that today’s generation find in employment and housing, it hit close to home for this recent graduate. Melodically it is also brilliant, and the tonality helps the song translate much better. “Restless” discusses freedom in travelling, and the backing vocals in the chorus are particularly uplifting.
“What Is It That We Are Part Of. What Is It That We Are” is a mixed bag of music from a peaceful man. Despite the gritty production, the thoughtful songwriting leaves you feeling enriched. 7/10
You can listen to it on the link below