Jim's Note: inFOLKus is the monthly magazine of the Folk Federation of South Australia.

inFOLKus CD Review -
Sometimes I Wake Up Naked

"No-one I know works harder at his craft than Jim Lesses. Heís been an inspiration to many people for his single-minded determination to improve steadily as a songwriter and performer Ė practicing in his living room with a broomstick for a dummy microphone stand, setting up his website, toiling assiduously at his lyrics and promoting himself as far and wide as any human can. This CD brings it all together.

Regular gig-goers will have seen Jim pumping out his highly individualistic, vigorous songs, engaging the audience with skill and humour. On the CD that personal element is, of course, absent and has been replaced with extra musicians and thicker arrangements. For my taste, I prefer Jim solo and live, despite the likes of John Munro, Don Holdernesse, Hugh Gordon, Trish Smylie, Jane Barr and others in the band.

I donít know whether the presence of the extras was inhibiting or whether it was the experience of being in the recording studio, but whatever, something seems to have sucked the life out of the performances. The net result is a conservative, albeit very competent album.

Jim doesnít tend to push himself to the edge vocally, which has governed the tonal range of his melodies. (On the whole Iíd say his skill as a tunesmith hasnít yet caught up with his ability to write strong, interesting and often funky lyrics).

The limitations of this are exposed on the CD, particularly in some of the very long songs, which tread the fine line between hypnotic enchantment and monotony. And while both Trish and Jane Barr have fine voices, theyíre too "nice" for some of Jimís quirky, punchy songs. Plenty of Waking Up, but no enough Naked energy. When Jim is more or less on his own, plus a little backing, the songs come alive, as in The Ballad of Billy Winter, I Want to be Eight Again, and Tuesday Night in The Jungle.

There are some great lyrics. Thereís almost a sense of the emergence of Adelaide's own Leonard Cohen in some of the songs Ė dark, melancholy, brooding, even black at times (Some Mother's Son is crying deep in the night/some motherís daughter dreams of home/ some motherís son is drinking black into white/ some motherís daughter dies alone).

Perhaps the stark black and white cover, showing a heavy face with a down-turned mouth, visually represents some of the content of the CD. Not all, though Ė Billy Winter, Tuesday Night in The Jungle, and I Want to be Eight Again are tremendous fun and bring out the lighter side of Jimís writing.

Despite these reservations I think this is a significant album. It presents original local material from a strong songwriter who, through his own discipline and hard work, has placed himself in the thick of the songwriting scene. I hope it inspires others to get off their bums and get their songs out.

Jim has shown it can be done with his first effort. Iím sure it wonít be his last."

~ Reviewed by Les Montanjees, inFOLKus, October 2002


JIM LESSES: Sometimes I Wake Up Naked

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JIM LESSES: American Dream

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