“Never needed much / Gave away my share / ‘Till I felt your love / ‘Till I felt you there” sings Jim Lord in a retrospective tone as his new single “Helplessly I Fell” begins to take shape before us. In this track, the iconic Lord is unafraid of his own emotionality, bearing his heart on his sleeve without ever hesitating in this harmony-powered ballad. “Helplessly I Fell” asks nothing of its audience other than for a little over four minutes of time to share a story as unique as its teller is, and in exchange we’re provided a picture window into the artistry of a truly underrated singer/songwriter.
This release, much like the other music Lord has submitted over the years, enjoys an amazing production quality, but there’s nothing about the mix or engineering that I would point out as being overly polished or pop-centric in stylization. The melodies here are really muscular, contained within the parameters set forth by the verses at the start of the song, and even when the fluidity of the strings is hypnotizing us from the background, our attention is never dragged away from the main action being sourced from the lead vocal.
Lord’s singing isn’t the loudest element in this master mix, but I think “Helplessly I Fell” was deliberately constructed this way as to allow for all of the music here to create a collective physicality that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise. Jim Lord has always produced some really meticulously crafted material, and in this sense, he hasn’t changed a bit since his rookie release Inside Out back in 1982. To a large extent, it’s probably the only thing about his sound that hasn’t evolved, but then again, this aspect of his music never needed to – it was always perfect just the way it is.
I love the way the verses become intertwined with the strings as we get further along in this single, and though their joint ascent isn’t critical to the climax being as powerful as it is, I think it was a nice touch nevertheless. Too many artists focus on trying to make monolithic balladry these days instead of applying natural elements to a tried and true blueprint, which, for all intents and purposes, is what Jim Lord has done to quite a bit of success in the last forty years. His younger contemporaries could stand to learn a thing or two from his methods, and that’s putting it very mildly.
If what I’ve just heard in “Helplessly I Fell” is just a taste of what’s still to come from the Jim Lord camp in the 2020’s, then I think we need to brace ourselves for what could easily be the most profound work of this man’s career. He’s cultivated a style that is inarguably his own, and in this single (as well as its parent album, Little Star), we’re hearing the fruits of his many years of labor in the most unfiltered, honest way that any audience could have asked for.
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