James William Hindle – Prospect Park

James William Hindle
Prospect Park

On his second album, British folk musician James William Hindle puts aside his Red House Painters vibe for a more purely folk-based sound complimented by a lush indie pop foundation. Joined by members of Ladybug Transistor and Essex Green, Sunshine Fix, and Aden, Hindle runs through 11 songs of lovely pop, filled with gorgeous electric and acoustic guitars, Nick Drake-esque melodies, and Neil Young-style songwriting. With Hindle’s rich voice, the album becomes an intimate affair.
If no single song stands out on Prospect Park, it’s not really a failing. For the most part, the style Hindle applies has been done for 40 years at least, and it’s none the worse off for relying on longstanding folk sensibilities. You can hear hints of Dylan, Young, and Drake in his songs, but similarly, his songwriting and pop structure hints at Songs: Ohia, Will Oldham, and the Red House Painters. And if there’s a surprising dose of psychedelic pop – light, airy, and almost surprisingly catchy – it’s the Elephant 6 influence of his former tour-mates and co-conspirators.
“You Will be Safe” has gorgeous guitar interplay and a vocal approach that reminds me immediately of Songs: Ohia, and the richness of the melancholy “Doubt” evokes similar comparisons. The best song on the album, “Come Down Slowly,” is a gorgeous affair of light pop, with keyboards providing a soft background to Hindle’s voice and guitar, and the hook on this song is the strongest. Piano helps drive the playfully catchy “Hoboken,” a song that might not sound out of place performed by Witch Hazel Sound. And the acoustic guitar and vocals on “Park Slope Song,” rather than sounding like Dylan, more resembles Elliot Smith. It’s a nice change of pace. A few of the purely folk numbers, while enjoyable, are less memorable, such as the chiming “Leaving Trains,” and “Shadows Cast a Lie.”
For those who shirk at the mention of folk and indie-rock, perhaps Hindle isn’t the artist for you. His voice and acoustic guitar – not to mention the hints of country twang to a few songs – are clearly at home in the folk genre. But this is modern folk, and his fellow musicians lend a very unique sound to his music. I’ve heard few artists blend styles so well – from light pop to rich, melancholy – and that’s what makes Prospect Park a truly enjoyable listen.