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Possessed by Paul James

There Will Be Nights When I'm Lonely – 2013 (Hillgrass Bluebilly)

Reviewed by Robert Wooldridge

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Possessed by Paul James is the moniker used by Austin-based singer/songwriter Konrad Wert, who blends elements of folk, country and blues with a touch of punk rock on his second full length studio release. There is a recurring theme of loneliness throughout the album, most notably in the title track ("There will be nights when I am lonely/As we cry ourselves to sleep"), as well as the punk influenced "Hurricane" ("Hey you, little boy left alone, left alone in the dark and the wild/You're angry as hell, you're ready to fight/Oh, man, you're and only child, such a lonely child").

In the country ballad "38 Year Old Cocktail Waitress" (which features Lloyd Maines on steel guitar), Wert relates the tale of an unfulfilled woman who turns to one night stands for comfort ("She takes them angry and she takes them dumb/Whole lots of trouble just to have some fun"). In "Songs We Used to Sing" Wert reflects on lost love ("I stand here alone in my bed, holding to a memory/Your touch and your smell, I'm losing my mind").

Some tunes have a religious tone as with "Back Down Here on Earth" ("And the lion and lamb will soon embrace/And save us all from a wicked human race"), and with "Sweet and Bitter Life" Wert manages to reflect optimism in the face of hardship ("I call this such an amazing, amazing life we're living/Yes it's damn hard and still it's so giving/I call this old amazing, amazing life we're living/Sure beats you down but somehow it's so forgiving").

Wert provides much of the instrumentation (guitar, banjo, violin, viola) to back his effective vocals that are a cross between Loudon Wainwright III and John Legend with an occasional Cookie Monster growl. In addition to Maines, he is nicely supported by Darren Sluyter (bass), Walter Daniels (harmonica) and Cary Ozanian (drums). With Wert's thoughtful compositions and strong performances, this is an impressive collection.