James Tillman is easily one of the most thought-provoking singer-songwriters in modern soul. This isn't just because he releases songs that touch on intricate feelings and emotions, but because each project he releases makes a statement. After giving us a taste with songs like "Things To Say," the artist is back with yet another statement with the release of his latest album Modern Desires.
During a time when many are forced to ponder what it really is they want out of life (and love), Modern Desires seems right on time. Not only does the project deal with romantic love and longing but with other aspects of desire in this day and age. "We are anxious about the future. Anxious about the past. Sometimes we just lose control. Discipline and surrender are in order, but must be tempered," Tillman told American Songwriter about the album. "We lay awake thinking of love, late into twilight. We sleep walk on days when rest eludes us. There are highs and there are lows. We want what we want. What does it look like to see someone remember? What do I desire? What do I need? Simple questions connect us all. Feel present, be love."
These ideas are represented well throughout the eight-song set. Tracks like "5AM," "Lose Control" and "Tokyo Love Affair" deal with romantic aspects and the struggle that sometimes comes with them. Meanwhile, he touches on other themes with tracks like "Wake Up," a dream-like call to be present in the life one has chosen, and "Ways," which deals with learning to accept people for who and where they are in life.
Even with all these heady concepts, Modern Desires still has the same qualities of his last album, Silk Noise Reflex. That means that its musical motifs and deft lyricism work together to create a unique listening experience that only James Tillman can give.