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James Talley

Journey – 2004 (Cimarron)

Reviewed by Rick Bell

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CDs by James Talley

There are plenty of cult country acts who are acknowledged for influencing this movement or that artist, but James Talley may be among the few who continue to fly under that radar screen. A live set of Talley's music - which has been recorded by the likes of Johnny Cash, Johnny Paycheck and even Moby - recorded in Italy in the fall of 2002 captures more than Talley singing his own work. Talley seems like a genuinely nice guy here with an affable, kindly voice who harbors no bitterness or resentment for the bum steer he got while in the music industry.

Bad deals and worse advice forced Talley to turn to selling commercial real estate after establishing himself with four now-classic records with Capitol in the 1970s. Many of the songs on the live album come from his Capitol days. Backed by a trio of Nashville stalwarts, Talley's catalog is indeed impressive.Five of the 14 cuts are previously unreleased, with "The Song of Chief Joseph" and "I Saw Buildings" both particularly stunning.

Talley calls his newest album - in the very lengthy and descriptive liner notes - another document in his journey (hence, the record's title). It's a trip well worth exploring with an under-appreciated singer and songwriter. (Box 120722, Nashville, TN 37212)