Tyler James (it took the fire)

Tyler James (it took the fire)

It Took the Fire

This blog post has ruminated within me for about a week. I’ve been listening to this music over and over and discovering subtle nuances, enjoying particular lines of lyric and becoming more and more convinced that Tyler James has found a way into my heart to stay. Last week, I downloaded this first full-length album It Took the Fire. A breathtaking collection of songs that wrap around my spleen and squeeze. I feel warm and musical and somehow safe and tense all at the same time, like when you’re listening to a (good) inspirational speaker who spurs you to action, or looking at a painting so lovely that you almost want to cry. Listening to Tyler James is like that. I want to live inside his music. I’m smiling all the time and I can’t stop. It’s been far too long since I’ve felt this way, and all I have to say is: it’s about time. I have not been able to stop listening to this album (though I stop from time to time for needed audio rest). I have forced my mom to admit she likes it, my brother to download it and suggested it to everyone that I have talked with since. You are no exception.

While vulnerable, and frankly beautiful this album avoids being overly emotional. The lyrics are honest and real, and you get the feeling that they were written by a person, a very expressive person who is excellent with wordplay and meter, but a person nonetheless. Most of the songs tell stories with just enough detail that you can see. I chose to download the album after hearing these lyrics (combined with excellent musical accompaniment) from the first song “All I Got”: “It was in the dead of winter/You were such a pretty sight/Bloomin’ up through the frozen landscape/You were more than worth a fight/With nothing much to offer,/we opened up the wine/And up on the roof, we laid silent/Underneath the starlight.”

Another standout of the set is “Stay Humble” which functions both as a song to pump me up and, yes, remind me to be humble, and a song to ponder the deeper lyrical challenges.

As a song to my generation, I love “Soapbox Shakedown” and “Tried to Measure” is human and sweetly sad, as well as the hauntingly emotional familiar: “Don’t Leave.”

Tyler is from Washington State originally, grew up in Iowa and now lives in Nashville, TN. You can hear a bit of all of that in his music, and the result is intoxicating. It is not every day that I listen to an album (yes, all at once, in order) and put it on again and again. As I do, and as I bring new people into the group who knows Tyler James, I smile to think of a quote of his I found on his website: "I wanted my record to reflect the community we have in Nashville," he says. "I still have hope that there are people out there who get together with friends, open up a bottle of wine and listen to records." I hope so too.