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Joshua James peers down from Willamette Mountain

WAMC's Ian Pickus speaks with singer-songwriter Joshua James, whose new album is From The Top Of Willamette Mountain.

Once you know a couple of things about James — he’s currently leading a self-sufficient lifestyle in the mountains of Utah — it’s hard to divorce life’s major questions, life, death, nature, faith, from the sound of his new album.

His songs are sometimes traditional acoustic pickers, but they are also sonically deep and pensive, having been recorded from live studio performances over two weeks in Oregon.

Originally from Nebraska, James became something of a hot commodity among the Itunes set with his first two albums, released in 2007 and ’09, and he stayed on the road until he settled back in Utah in 2011. The name of his album refers to his home and farm, which he calls Willamette Mountain — also the title a track on the new record.

Reviewers have struggled to categorize James’ sound — is he a one-man Mumford and Sons? Is he a rustic folkie with existential dread? Is Willamette Mountain an alternative rock statement?

A lifelong resident of the Capital Region, Ian joined WAMC in late 2008 and became news director in 2013. He began working on Morning Edition and has produced The Capitol Connection, Congressional Corner, and several other WAMC programs. Ian can also be heard as the host of the WAMC News Podcast and on The Roundtable and various newscasts. Ian holds a BA in English and journalism and an MA in English, both from the University at Albany, where he has taught journalism since 2013.
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