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Leaving Town

by Jack James

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about

Here is the secret to making a good record: write something completely original that everyone will immediately enjoy, then coast. The hard part isn't merely a good verse-chorus-verse structure but building a unique perspective on the traditional subjects everyone writes about. Unfortunately, after a while, you become stuck to a certain type of sound or subject simply because your music is being filtered through the same perspective. This is particularly a problem for folk artists who usually end up being accurately described simply by what city they come from. Luckily Jack James has a solution here: leave town. Escape.

If you've listened to his previous albums this elegy for escapism shouldn't be entirely unexpected, though you don't need to be too familiar with the back catalogue of an obscure Scottish singer-songwriter to understand the drive to get away from everything. The songs crafted here sound effortless yet precise, showing experience he has no right to have at this age. Nothing quite says this as well as the album centrepiece "Leaving Town", the longest song in the repertoire, a climactic guitar/banjo ensemble which fully captures the journey away from your home and yourself. This common thread of escapism is found within the stories, characters and sounds woven throughout the album which include mediations on age, aspirations and the music scene itself.

This is the sound of an artist in his prime, you're invited to listen but RSVP is not required.

credits

released 03 December 2011

Written: July 2010 - May 2011
(Home) Recorded: 7th April - 12th November 2011
Location: Glasgow, Scotland, UK

All songs written and recorded by Jack James

Instrumentation: Vocal, Banjo, Acoustic Guitar, Bass, Piano, Harmonica, Slide Guitar, Whistling, Clock, Percussion

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Track Name: We Best Be Off
It's time to go now, let's go
We best be off home, come on now son
There'll be time tomorrow, we'll come back then
Arriving at the same time, same time leaving

If you can't do what you did before
If your shoes have already been filled
If you can't do what you did before

Walking with your head down, look up
Change your perspective, come on now son
Hands like shovels, listen here
Grips on your shoulder, whispers into your ear

If you can't do what you did before
If your shoes have already been filled
If you can't do what you did before

It's time to go son
It's time to go son
It's time to go, come on now
Track Name: Full-time Traveller
Go outside for no reason
Lock the door, keep the heat in
Let's explore

What's that man?
I want to be him when I'm older
Full-time traveller

You've got an old soul and a young face
You're at home but you feel out of place
So you make some changes, some reinventions
Like before, full of good intentions
Well what's the difference this time, how's this not the same?
You make big plans and then forget them again
Track Name: Why I Signed Up
On your way with the travelling band, better pack a bag
It’s your first time, this is your trip and it’s mine
You woke an hour early, it’s my hometown
This is why I signed up

Two pairs of jeans, a long overcoat, five plaid shirts
But you are from Scotland not Nashville, Tennessee, there’s no pick-up truck
But in the car there’s a banjo and twenty CDs of Neil Young’s
This is why I signed up

Two hours to the show, you’re looking up lyrics to songs you wrote
The front-man puts his head on, this persona you sometimes forget
“It’s an act I believe in,” he says, “going for three years strong”
“This is why I signed up”

You try to record, taking pictures from town to town
And you've not been bored for months now, things are moving fast
And you've got so many ideas that you can hardly cope
Ah... why I signed up
Track Name: Top of the Hill
Travel to the top of the hill
Where the planes fly right above your head
So close you can almost reach
So loud

Up there you can take it all in
If there's no one around that is
They're all down in the town in the buildings and high rises
You can see them

And I can see you now on your self-sustained house on the mountainside
And yeah, I'd like to live up there
But we can't be hippies it's 2009
But in Glasgow... in Glasgow we can

And I know this is just your plan
You've always pegged yourself as an ideas man
But there's something making you hesitate that you don't think I've seen
You think that you've just taken the final step but that was all a dream
Track Name: Fall Hard On Deaf Ears
Inside, inside, inside, I'll take you there to work
But it's full, there's no room
And the games they play at night don't have a way of ending

Let's talk, let's talk, let's talk, I've found us a quiet place to work
Because talking's work when you get involved
You've got your systems and a problem to solve

Let's go into town, fall hard on deaf ears
Drowning in the noise, drowning in shallow depths

You drive, it's your turn
We need to get there by sunrise, load the truck
I know that we need them, it's hard to break free from city life
But they need us... more than we need them

Let's go into town, fall hard on deaf ears
Drowning in the noise, drowning in shallow depths
Track Name: The Right Mistake
I want to say everything unfiltered
But I worry about you taking everything at face-value
So write this down: I'm leaving town
I warned you that I'd see this through

Packed a full car, leave at daybreak
Was this the right choice?
Was this the right mistake?

You're upbeat as I vote with my feet
Does that mean you're coming too?
I left it for you to choose
Track Name: Live This Down
I'll think of a mean old place to come from, and I'll say I'm from there
I'll construct my name from poets and musicians
And try to live this down

I'll live under the radar, no one will even mention
I'll blend into the background, not looking for redemption
I'm trying to live this down

No form of identification, it's all just a memory
And I tried to forget, but you wouldn't let me
So I'm thinking what to do, and where to go
And try to live this down

I'll think of a mean old place to come from, and I'll say I'm from there
I'll live under the radar, no one will even mention
No form of identification, it's all just a memory
I'm trying to leave this town
Track Name: Leaving Town
Wait until she's asleep
Find no evidence of me leaving
Pack my things into the car
Say my goodbye, that wasn't hard
Everything fits in the backseat
Your heavy coat trapped underneath
Although you left some behind
You're lighter now, pay it no mind

Travelling light, packed a full car, it's midnight
Not far to go, welcome to your new home
Can you tell what the difference is?
No matching sets of hers and his
But you've got two of a kind
And you're lighter now, pay it no mind

You can watch me talk and learn how to walk the walk
Steal my turns of phrase, my hair, the clothes that I wear
Become another version of me, the best version I can be

Your mood is heavy and your face relaxes
You can't raise a smile when the waitress asks you
If there'll be anything else
Your order lets her down, you never meet expectations
So you buy something else
But now you've got too much and something you don't want
Your problems coming to life in a roadside shop

You can watch me talk and learn how to walk the walk
Steal my turns of phrase, my hair, the clothes that I wear
Become another version of me, the best version I can be

You can watch me walk
Track Name: Corridor Walking
I can walk this corridor with you
Moving a pace ahead when we approach the doors
With this gentlemanly stride, I can help you though
And I can apologise if this offends you

I will grow my strength and character
Can you become a man with shallow, empty plans?
Strategised and thought out, devised in advance
Well I am living proof if that's indeed true

I have trusted you with all my thoughts
You have wrote the script, tell me what to do
Suppose that she says this, tell me what to say
If I respond with this, tell me will she stay
Track Name: Time Stops For No Man
It's goodbye tomorrow and it has come too soon
It's goodbye to our spoken words that killed the afternoon
And I don't want to lose

Well goodbye, yes, I'm leaving town, I know we did not speak
But I heard some of the things you said, and I agree
But not it's too late

But time stops for no man, time stops for no man

And you, you are my best friend, you who I just met
We quickly found some common ground
I'm new in town, let me show you around

But first let me brush off the burden of my past life
Take off the mask, put on the beard
No one will recognise me here

But time stops for no man, time stops for no man

Well if time don't stop, what do I got up to this point in time?
Do memories count? I'm sure they do
My leaving night, remember what I said to you?

That time stops for no man, time stops for no man
That time stops for no man
Track Name: The Boxer
Rising star, learned to fight
Talks to you with a strength that's unforgettable

Figured out all his life
Mastered all the skills that he needs at only seventeen

Now time has pushed him aside
He had an early turn in the spotlight
Now he's at the back of the line
In the back of our minds

Still at school, unaware
That beyond this box he won't survive
He doesn't realise that these days are the best of his life

Now time has pushed him aside
He had an early turn in the spotlight
Now he's at the back of the line
In the back of our minds

Married his girl, in their decline
At twenty-one all he did was look behind

Now time has pushed him aside
He had an early turn in the spotlight
Now he's at the back of the line
In the back of our minds
Track Name: Novelist
Tell me your story and I'll pass it along
As a work of fiction, as a work of song

I need some information would you please hold on?
I have an idea, oh god don't be wrong

You can write what you want but I won't let you on
To this stage or this platform from which to speak from

I've got your information right here in front me
But nothing really stood out from what I've seen

If no one reads this but me, does it still count as read?
Does an idea exist if it's just in my head?

I need your information, would you please hold on?
I have an idea, oh god don't be wrong
Track Name: When You're Old
In the darkened city, patterned by its railway lines
Divided by its river into sides
One against the other, maybe it flows east to west
Maybe they fight for what is best

Experiments in the light, shifting shadows till something feels right
Move in closer, focus in
Bring the camera
Begin

When you're old, it's passed you by, that's just the definition
Maybe you took hold, maybe it passed you by

Two rivals in the dark, turn on the light and see who is winning
What's the score?
Who's living best?

It's the one who's in the dark
Didn't know it's a competition
Maybe you took hold, maybe it passed you by

When you're old, it's passed you by, that's just the definition
Maybe you took hold, maybe it passed you by
Track Name: Driving to the Coast
Tell me where to go
I'm running out of lines and I'm running out coast
You're just too damn slow
You drunk drove and forgot which way is home

Yes and now I know
I heard it on the phone but I'd known it all along
But we won't acknowledge this we'll just play along
We're actors in a play, characters in a song

And you, you play your part still
Even though you know you're hidden from view
And it's all eyes on you
The people came to watch you choose

Who's it going to be?
Is it him or is it me?
You know what? Forget it, I don't want to know
I headed out the door

And I picked up my keys
I opened the car but I fell to my knees
Was it the alcohol or something more?
I'll sleep on the floor

When I awoke, I drove off
And I thought about what I wanted the most
I went in search for The Great White Coast