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You Are All My People

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Album Review

Great novelists are not frequently great songwriters, and vice versa; not many people read Bob Dylan's Tarantula for any reason beyond curiosity, and anyone who has heard the songs Thomas McGuane co-wrote with Warren Zevon knows they don't rank high in either man's pantheon. So fans of novelist Jonathan Lethem and singer/songwriter Walter Salas-Humara had good reason to be wary when the two teamed up with producers and multi-instrumentalists Phil Hernandez and Chris Maxwell to form a new musical project, I'm Not Jim. Thankfully, Lethem and Salas-Humara have turned out to be a strong and imaginative songwriting team, and I'm Not Jim's debut album, You Are All My People, is clever, well-crafted pop music that represents a notable departure from Salas-Humara's work with the Silos. Salas-Humara sounds looser, edgier, and more daring on these songs than he does with his own material, and while with Lethem at his side these tunes are wordier than the average Silos number, they maintain the tight focus and first-person perspective that works for a song rather than a story. Just as importantly, while "The Pitchers Gave Up" and "Uncomplicated" bear a close resemblance to the roots rock that's the Silos' bread and butter, Hernandez and Maxwell throw a wall of fractured electronics, keyboard pads, and rhythm beds against the melodies that turns them into something fresh and lively without robbing Salas-Humara of his musical personality. And while a few spoken word bits are included on the album, "Howard" is funny enough to keep things moving at a solid clip and the jumbled edits of "Walks Into" make it into something different than just an author's reading. In short, you don't have to be a literary groupie or a Silos completist to find plenty worth exploring in You Are All My People.


Formed: New Orleans, LA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

The rock group I'm Not Jim began as a collaboration between novelist Jonathan Lethem (whose books include Motherless Brooklyn and The Fortress of Solitude) and Walter Salas-Humara of the Silos. Lethem, a Silos fan, introduced himself to Salas-Humara at a Silos concert in New Orleans, and Salas-Humara proposed that the two write songs together. They convened at Lethem's house in Maine and ended up writing an entire album's worth of material within a couple of days, Lethem writing lyrics and Salas-Humara...
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You Are All My People, I'm Not Jim
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