James Jackson Toth : Waiting in Vain

jj_toth_waiting.jpgWorking with producer Steve Fisk ( Screaming Trees, Nirvana), Tennessee folk singer and member of Wooden Wand, James Jackson Toth, reaches an elevated level of pop craftsmanship on the elegiac release, Waiting in Vain.

Simply put, this one gets better with every listen. That could be because Toth enlisted the very best artists to help him with this project, including Nels Cline (Wilco), Carla Bozulich (Geraldine Fibbers), and drummer Otto Hauser (Vetiver/Devendra Banhart). But the likely explanation lies in Toth’s eerie, otherworldly compositions, and his direct transcription of them onto tape, featuring his refreshingly off-balanced echoing vocal treatments. Think southern gothic ballads and bouncy up-tempo, radio-friendly fare in the guise of tunes like "The Banquet Styx" and "Look in on Me." Or, perhaps, imagine Leon Russell joining forces with The Beatles and My Morning Jacket on numbers that turn the conventional upside down, and into subversive twin classic barnburners such as "Nothing Hides" and "Poison Oak."

James Jackson Toth aims for the fences to hit home a winner on ’08’s underrated and sparkling gem, Waiting in Vain.     

Waiting in Vain is out now on Rykodisc.