Maxwell James – ‘Cry to the Wind’
Review By Matt Wong & Staff
“Cry to the Wind” begins with piano playing a riff, supported by an electric guitar playing a counter line, and another guitar playing rhythm. A mesmerizing groove commences halfway through the intro with the drums and bass entering the mix.
After much anticipation, James’ bright, energetic vocals enter on the first verse supported by a scaled back instrumentation of drums, and bass. "Your feeling the heat There’s something coming over Like your disease is taking you slowly." James' exceptional vocals possess a diverse mix of influences. You can hear touches of rock, pop, soul and R & B in in his voice as he keeps you glued to every word.
As the song's arrangement moves forward, the bass uses a nice touch of distortion, which along with James’ vocals, gives the track some funky attitude. The soulful keys play a rhythmic motif that effectively drives the song into the chorus. The guitars re-enter on the chorus with effective vocal production that gives the song’s mix some width helping the chorus bloom. A bluesy solo full of expression follows the second chorus.
The lyrics in “Cry to the Wind” were written about anxiety. The lyrics are so full of meaning and emotion; James perfectly captures the essence of anxiety as he sings about “feeling the heat” and “losing sleep.” The main lyric in the chorus, “So cry to the wind, silent songs. Now you’re alone” will jump out and grab a listener’s attention.
“Cry to the wind” is an excellent piece of songwriting and music making by Maxwell James. The song’s arrangement pushes and pulls in a way that brings excitement and further life to the song’s well-crafted melody and lyrics. The song’s production is top notch, and effectively enhances the listening experience to help listeners connect with the intended emotion. Maxwell James has an engaging and charting sound that stands out in today's crowded music arena inviting more than one listen.
Maxwell James’ sound draws from everything from American roots to classical music with a particular focus on rhythm and melody.
“I like all styles of music. If it has good rhythm, melody and harmony, it’s good music!”
This ethos permeates into his own music, resulting in a blend of rock and Americana that is equal parts groovy and eclectic.
As a two-time cancer survivor, Maxwell’s lyrical content leans in on deeper themes, often tapping into personal, abstract streams of consciousness and introspective thoughts. After moving to Nashville in 2016, Maxwell played his first gig at Music City’s famous Bluebird Café and quickly won the hearts of the locals. In March 2018, Maxwell released his self-titled five-song EP and his single “Roll Down Your Windows Slowly” peaked on both the Indie Digital Radio chart (#15) and the National Digital Radio chart (#45).
Since then, Ear to the Ground included Maxwell on its “Five Need-to-Know Folk Singer Songwriters” list and The Farsighted called him “one of Nashville’s best kept secrets.” In addition, Maxwell won the Guitar for Gifts songwriting competition at Third Man Records for his song “The More You Say, The Less I Know. His sophomore release, ‘Wheels’ followed up in 2019, was recorded in his own home studio, and entirely self-performed. It was mixed and mastered by good friend and long-time collaborator, John Behrens from Farmland Studios. Maxwell James now lives and operates out or Milwaukee, WI.