Great Falls singer/songwriter James Waddell releases new album ‘Wanderlust and Godspeed’
Everyone knows the feeling of wanting to escape and see the world, or perhaps feeling trapped in a place that’s not as alluring as putting pedal to pavement and stretching across the open roads to discover new, potentially life-changing adventures.
For James Waddell, having lived in nearly every state in the union growing up, it’s affected his life now as an adult to the point where he said he’s always felt a lot of what he calls, “the insatiable desire to travel and see new places.”
The album, produced by Matt Johnson at Fourth Avenue Recording Studios in Great Falls, is titled “Wanderlust and Godspeed” and was written, as Waddell says, to feed that kind of energy into a creative project.
Waddell, who’s played piano since he was in Kidergarten, said he sees the song “A Very Frayed Rope” as the starting point to the journey he hopes listeners take with the music when they start listening to it.
“I imagined (that song) as being the catalyst for this trip,” he said. “Then as the songs progress from “Arizona” to “Closer to You”, you are kinda taken on a road trip through song. Essentially I gathered up songs I had written over the last few years that mentioned particular places or travels and weaved it all into a narrative.”
With the song “Arizona” in particular, Waddell said he used his most recent trip to The Grand Canyon State as inspiration for how the track would be structured.
“In ‘Arizona’ we start with a very cold, computerized beat I think because during my last trip to Arizona I was with friends who loved electronic music so the landscape of the song ‘Arizona’ has an EDM soundtrack, but I ended the song with the full band because after all I must be true to my own sound.”
With that in mind, Waddell said he was excited by this album in a constructive way, as well, because he said it was the first album he’s ever worked on where he’s had other instruments and back-up singers in the fold.
He said seeing other local musicians and friends help share their talents on this record was a blast for him, too. Throughout the album you’ll hear contributions from Johnson and Mike Chasse on drums, Delena Delich and Erin Duffy Osswald on vocals, Bobby Wright on bass and Jeff Carroll and James’ brother Joseph Waddell on guitars.
” For me, hearing the songs all fully fleshed-out was and is a dream come true,” Waddell said. “I’ve never been in a band so hearing the drums come in, or a scorching guitar lick really brings my little songs to life.”
Waddell also said he was extremely pleased with how the song “The Solomon Tree” turned out particularly because of the unique percussion used throughout the track.
“We used Mick O’Days antique typewriter which Matt and I used as percussion for the song,” he said. “I think that is unique and it turned out really special, plus I love the cool ‘Linda Ronstadt’ vibe that Erin brings to that same track, too.”
This is the second project Waddell has worked with Johnson on, the first being his debut album that came out several years ago.
Waddell said now that he’s just released this album, he’s seen a noticeable progression in how the songs are structured and how much more he’s been able to rely on Johnson to help the music blossom.
“The first project we completed together was mostly just my ideas that he would help bring them to life,” Waddell said. “This time around, I really wanted more of his input. He makes the recording process almost effortless so I really got to just concentrate on playing and singing. Matt is a genius too, so that doesn’t hurt!”
One of the big things with this album was that it wasn’t just a collection of singles but could be experienced as a full album, as well, even if that meant going against the latest trends.
“So many artist now days concentrate on singles, but I really approached this project as an album,” he said. “I used to love to sit down and devour a Tori Amos album from start to finish in one setting and really letting it take me on a journey. That is what I envisioned for this project.”
When he isn’t playing his own music, Waddell said he also loves to perform things such as old Bryan Adams songs or Stevie Nicks songs.
“I like to take rock songs and turn them on their heads and play them as ballads,” he said. “But honestly I probably play Amy Grant songs more than anyone else.”
Waddell said in the meantime he’s also working on a ballad-like cover of Cinderella’s “Dont Know What You Got” with Delich.
“She sings the living hell out of it and it’s so much fun to play,” he said.
Now that the album’s out, Waddell said he’d gladly play his music at venues where people would like to hear him perform but said he doesn’t see himself playing too many bars as he still doesn’t consider himself a ‘performing’ artist.
“It’s not that I wouldn’t play if people wanted to hear me play, it’s just I see myself primarily as a songwriter/recording artist at this point,” he said. “I am open to performing in the right setting and I would love to get a showcase of some sort put together with like-minded artists and myself playing to a room that’s there to hear the music.”
In the meantime, Waddell said he’s going to continue promoting the album and recording new songs to play, as well. He said someday he’d love to start a band and possibly move to California to explore opportunities there.
“I have many, many, many songs just waiting for the right project,” he said. “I’d love to share my songs with a performer who maybe doesn’t write their own songs. I also am pulled by California and I hope to one day end up there.”
If you’d like to purchase “Wanderlust and Godspeed,” Waddell said it’s available at a variety of places online such as Amazon, iTunes and Google Play. He said the album already is up on Spotify ready for streaming and people interested in purchasing a hard copy can do so on Amazon in the coming weeks as well.