Jim's ability to create memorable and catchy tunes has transferred easily to this pared down folksy setting and vocally his slightly husky tone is perfect; when he occasionally strays into that louder register and it breaks, you can feel those shivers, just lovely. This album is full of emotional depth and longing, the tone is quietly competitive; female vocals flesh out the minimal backing sometimes, adding warmth, which is a nice touch and the variety in the instrumentation keeps things from ever becoming samey or monotonous.
Opener 'On My Way Back Home Again' is a corker, it moves along at a swift pace, has a memorable melody and a nostalgic tone; Jim lets his vocals fly on this one just before the end and it brings a real emotional punch. Another standout track is 'Easier Said Than Done' with a melancholic tone and really touching vocal it effectively stops you in your tracks. Recent single 'Broken Songs' is gorgeous, a spine tingling melody, soulful cello and vocal backing from Tegan (of Tegan & Sara); it will break your heart. Instrumental track 'Lake Travis' employs banjo and trumpet in soothing waves. Longest track by far, 'Waves In Spanish' is the only low point on the album; it's pleasant but suffers from its extreme length, not really changing things up enough to warrant over 7 minutes of run time, as a result it may find you zoning out towards the end. Luckily the album is pulled back by the final two tracks, the excellent 'Decades' and the slightly rockier 'The Beginning Of The End' which finishes things on a high note.
The final six tracks of the record are alternate versions of some tracks from the album but with the backing of a full band and are included on a second CD. All six tracks work well with this bigger accompaniment, especially 'Take It Back', 'Broken Songs' and some great gospel style backing vocals on 'Decades'. It's great to hear Jim stretch those lungs on tracks like 'Mystery Talks', but the decision to release them on a separately included CD is a good one as otherwise you may lose the emotional depth of feeling created from the minimalism of the main bulk of the album.