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Possessed by Paul James

As We Go Wandering – 2020 (PPJ)

Reviewed by Robert Wooldridge

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Austin-based singer/songwriter Konrad Wert (a.k.a. Possessed By Paul James) delivers some potent social commentary on "As We Go Wandering" employing elements of folk, bluegrass and country. The powerful ballad "Be At Rest" reflects Wert's experience as a teacher with a blistering critique of our educational system ("For there are battles in these classrooms/For there are battles in these hearts/That if we don't start to work together/This whole damn thing will fall apart").

Wert derived the moniker Possessed By Paul James by combining the name of his grandfather with his dad's middle name. This connection to his familial past is reflected in the semi-autobiographical "I Come From SW Florida" ("Let's go back into the heart of every home/There may be bitterness, confusion and dismay/But we will walk along the Gulf Coast waters/In the Gulf Coast waters until the end of day") that particularly spotlights Wert's impressive acoutic guitar work. Wert also revisits his musical past with a full band reworking of "When It Breaks" which he performed solo with his acoustic guitar on the 2010 album "Feed the Family."

Wert's caustic sense of humor comes through on "I'm So Good at Absolutley Nothing" as he chuckles "Hand in hand we'll fail together/That's just the way it should be." Other highlights are the jazz flavored "Your White Stained Dress," featuring Bobcat Rob Armenti on organ, and the uptempo "Dance With Me Tonight" on which Wert shines on fiddle.

With Wert's smart lyrics, strong vocals reminiscent of Marcus Mumford and brilliant musicianship on guitar, fiddle and banjo, this is a compelling effort.