Written in the Mojave Desert, Jimmy Livingstone’s uplifting new single soaks up the desert landscape and sees in it a hint of something ‘big, bold and beautiful’.
Co-produced and mixed by none other than Eric Liljestrand (Lucinda Williams’ producer), ‘Desert Song’ has a big splash of Americana. Featuring a high level of musicianship, the song sees Livingstone’s intense acoustic and distinctive, rugged voice combine with a hugely talented band, which includes the likes of Doug Pettibone (Lucinda Williams’ band), Doggen (Spiritualised), Evan Jenkins (Neil Cowley trio) and Frank Zappa’s old brass section.
Driving toms in the verses, bright electric guitars in the choruses, picked Dobro throughout; the rich production combines flavours of folk, blues and country. The lyrics paint a vivid picture through Livingstone’s highly personal, narrative style. After a decade of living in Hackney, Livingstone, like Gram Parsons and U2 before him, found the desert around Joshua Tree a big source of inspiration. Having gone to LA to record, he soon found himself homeless and escaped there to finish his debut album, ‘One eye open, one eye closed’.
‘Desert Song’ is a great introduction to it. The Americana theme is at its strongest in this track but it runs in varying degrees throughout the record, taking in Nashville, Memphis and the West Coast along the way. Although Livingstone is British, as are the settings of most of his songs, the Americana element sits very comfortably with this and helps to tease out the sense of yearning for a life elsewhere that bubbles up through the material.
Though music has always been the constant in his life, it was following a spectacular car crash that Livingstone took the decision to hone his voice as a songwriter. Reflecting Livingstone’s rich and varied life experiences, this stunning collection of songs range from achingly beautiful ballads like ‘The Waiting Room’ and ‘In your own Sweet Time’ to punchy up-tempo tracks such as ‘The World beneath my Feet’, a toe-tapping tale of nocturnal mania. ‘Getting by’, the second track on the single and album opener, is an elegant, drifting work crying out to be the theme song of a classic American movie. The craftsmanship of this album brings to mind the great Jimmy Webb.
‘One Eye Open, One Eye Closed’ would sit neatly in a record collection that included the likes of Nick Cave, Glen Campbell, Elliot Smith, Tom Jones or Richard Hawley. Bringing together a wide range of musical influences with a defiantly honest set of lyrics that really stand on their own, the album is a real treat of a listen and marks the arrival of a true talent.