Jim Wyly – “Wildman Of The Thicket” – both infectiously laid back, yet energetically ominous

After having spent 40 years honing his craft in the Austin are, born and bred Texas musician and singer, Jim Wyly has been labelled a “Texas Songwriter”, though his creative talents take him far outside that box. For years a member of several bands including Movin Target and The Lunar Rollers, Wyly has finally decided to take the solo route, at the tender age of seventy something. His first work – the album “The Artisan” – is already up on the shelves. On his latest voyage the tempered craftsman has filled his baggage with the soul, country, folk and rock songwriting cultivated through the years.

Tackling the Bigfoot Legend from The Big Thicket in Texas, the single, “Wildman Of The Thicket” is the unsweetened real deal, exactly as Jim Wyly intends his tunes to emerge into the world. It says something of the man’s dedication to his uncluttered cause that it’s impossible to tell which era the tune derives from. You only know that it’s a better one, musically speaking.

It could be from the swamp-blues of the sixties, the loose-groove soul-inflected Americana of the seventies, or simply the retro-alt-folk of today. “Wildman Of The Thicket” also provides a welcome reminder that Wyly’s default setting as a storytelling master of the acoustic groove hides some serious musical ambition.

For all his skills as a guitarist and singer, Jim Wyly is first and foremost a songwriter. Any attempt to describe his material is bound to do it a serious disservice. As funky blues shuffles, folky guitar strums, and honey-and-bourbon toned vocals glide by, we’re seemingly only at the very core of Wyly’s craft.

Listen deeper, and Wyly’s subtle way with a hook and idiosyncratic soundscape accrues a hypnotic pull that – as with all truly great stylists – can’t be satisfactorily analyzed and intellectualized: this is substantial, satisfying music for us to feel. What’s more, there are no frills, no big glossy production. This is the sound of Jim Wyly getting down to business without much fuss. A song that manages to be both infectiously laid back, yet energetically ominous.

Musically, it’s wistful and a touch breezy, but lyrically there’s a real sense of adventure going on. Beneath the grooving demeanor, lies a tale that’s much more than meets the eye. Listening to Jim Wyly, it becomes clear that his songs have something most commercially produced songs fail to possess: Personality.

Wyly knows how to write music, sing a song and play the guitar – but, his voice lends that secret ingredient. It’s what many singer-songwriters never learn because it’s hard to teach personality. Musical trends come and go, but something tells me Jim Wyly’s music is going to stay around.


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