Angel Air 2018
Quiet reflection on the nature of existence and mortality from a free bird.
“My mind is clear and so’s my motivation”: this simple line from the serene title song of Jim McCarty‘s third solo album might be his definitive statement – the veteran has finally arrived at the peaceful spot his stairway-winding path was leading to for a long long time, so long that the process and the result became one. McCarty’s train of thought kept a-rollin’ down spiritual track ever since he ventured beyond the role of a Yardbird to turn into a Renaissance man, yet while Jim’s previous personal record, "Sitting On The Top Of Time" from 2009, found him observing current events and eternity from outside, “Walking In The Wild Land” is where the artist has blended into his surroundings to contemplate everything from within. It’s quite telling when a musician famous for revolutionary percussive verve chooses tranquility for a non-rock situation and remains as expressive – and impressive, too.
It’s easy to understand, though, the underlying wisdom of McCarty’s modus operandi – this unhurried and harmless perseverance – explained in “Soft In A Hard Place” with Alex Lifeson chiming in; and he’s ready to accept the turning tide as revealed in the chamber “Changing Times” whose drama is celestially elevated by Jim’s gentle vocals. More so, there’s an imperative in “Stop Living Life In The Past” and he’s happy to count his blessings here and now, the folk-tinctured “In The Clear” celebrating Jim’s joy of being alive and well. Just like in the ’70s, he delegates drumming to another player, except for two pieces which also feature old colleague John Hawken on piano – the down-to-earth “Right On The Road” and “Connected” that, despite their romanticism, only emphasize the writer’s determination not to dwell on the glory of ’69 but carry on moving on, and if “Charmed” has a tour routine in its pulsing rhythm, McCarty’s able to see new details in constant motion and be delighted.
Of course, he’s much more in awe of nature – the mantra of “Mountain Song” and transparent balladry of “Dancing Leaves” testify to that in a mesmerizing manner, whereas the solemn “Come Around The Corner” finds Jim looking for the next different sight, and “So Many Questions” welcomes mystery into an ordinary life, the life McCarty’s up for at this day and age. “We’re held into this state that is so tightly cast”: that’s not for him anymore, as he’s “free of all pretenses” after fame and fortune proved not to be the precious things in the world, which is why “Walking In The Wild Land” has gravity and wonder in it.