As I sat down to write this review in late October, an early storm blanketed my Southwest Virginia mountains with a foot of snow.Â Being a public school teacher, where snow days in October rob me of sunny days off in May, my loathing for the frozen precipitation and the wet mess it would cause bubbled to the surface and, for a moment, I wanted to be anywhere but home.
I was in need of a road trip.
Thankfully, I had Places, the latest release from James Justin & Co., close at hand.
A set of songs inspired by the bandâ€™s touring travels, Places is an auditory adventure, taking listeners to the places and spaces on the road James Justin & Co. recently visited.Â Each song assumes the personality of its geographic or emotional inspiration, from the opening â€œForever And A Day,â€ with its hints of the tourâ€™s unknown promise and possibilities, to â€œMidwestern Sounds,â€ whose subtle easiness is drawn from camping on the Kansas plains, to â€œWolf Creek Pass,â€ when the band dealt with a dying van and a coasting exit from a dangerous Rocky Mountain pass.
The Big Apple, in â€œSteel City,â€ and North Americaâ€™s highest elevated lake, in â€œRuedi Reservoir,â€ also serve as muses for the band, as does their hometown of Folly Beach, South Carolina, in â€œOur Little Island,â€ the empty loneliness of the Southwest, in â€œOld New Mexico,â€ and the many pubs and drinking houses they played along the way, in â€œLimerick of Love.â€
Taking a listen to Places is like packing up and hitting the road with the band.Â Though there was snow outside my window, I felt like I had rolled through the Great Plains, crossed the Rockies, and been awed by the spectacle of New York City.Â Like the band, I was thankful for the journey.
Places is out now.