Today’s Song: Patrick James’ Soulful & Enduring “Lay It Down”

Patrick James © 2017
Recommended If You Like: Journey, Gordi

There’s a certain timelessness about Patrick James’ new song “Lay It Down” – a feeling like it could have come out of any decade, any place. With bright piano trills laying a vibrant bed of sound, Patrick James lights up the room with a soulful, seductive ode that grapples with time, baggage, and the innate desire to move forward.

But sometimes, you need to work through the past before leaving it behind.

When’s somebody gonna save you
From the end of the race
We could lay under midnight
Try and wish it all away
Listen: “Lay It Down” – Patrick James

Atwood Magazine is excited to feature Patrick James’ brand-new single “Lay It Down,” his first offering since 2015’s debut album, Outlier (released 10/16/2015). The Australian singer/songwriter returns with strong hints of ’80s influence: Fat drum beats recall the air of one Phil Collins, whilst James’ beautifully sweet piano workings cite Bruce Hornsby, whose song “The Way It Is” maintained its popularity through the ’80s and ’90s thanks to its feature in 2Pac’s “Changes.”

Lay It Down - Patrick James

Lay It Down – Patrick James

Still, “Lay It Down” emits this profound, ageless and enduring aura.

Lay it down, lay it down
It’s killing me softly
Cause I need the time to go
Figure it out
Why, it keeps holding me back
Why, it keeps pulling me down
I can’t react, and I can’t go back

The song resonates with the resilience – we feel an embattled spirit fighting an uphill battle, diving inward to find the strength to persevere. We sense the urgency in James’ chorus: “It keeps pulling me down,” he persists. “I can’t react, and I can’t go back.” Anthemic electric guitar riffs spark fires around his voice, acting as kindling for his struggle.

All I ever wanted
was the feeling that I

Could get to where you’re going
Never say never
When the feeling is rising
In the heat of the moment

“The song really came about in its full form after a trip to the UK,” reflects James. “Davie from Bears Den, the band I was touring with over there, told me about Bruce Hornsby who wrote that song called ‘The Way It Is.’ I only knew it from 2Pac’s version of the song, which was obviously a big tune in the ’90s. When I listened to the original, I immediately became inspired to re-work this half=written idea that I had (the beginnings of Lay It Down). I guess the drum loop is a pretty significant place that the song started from; that, the piano riff, and the main hook were all I really had, but the arrangement all came pretty quickly after I’d been triggered to work on it.”

Patrick James © 2017

Patrick James © 2017

This arena-like, late-night anthem is new territory for James, whose debut features a mix of acoustic guitar and piano-driven material, but sounds far more like Vance Joy than it does Journey. He notes, “My music always seems to be a reflection of what I’m listening to at the time, and this was definitely an example of that. Also, the process of working with my producer Ben McCarthy (Gordi, Alex The Astronaut) was really quick – but only because we seemed to share the exact same vision for what it should be. We had all the same reference points and made sure that it still sounded modern and like me as an artist.”

“Throughout the entire writing and recording of the song I didn’t pick up the acoustic guitar once, which was strange at first… It totally felt natural to move a little bit away from my past releases without discrediting it at all.”

We sense that internal push-and-pull in James’ lyrics; we feel the transition of an artist diving into something new. Patrick James has found comfort outside of his comfort zone, bringing us with him on the next chapter of his journey. “Lay It Down” is his biggest, boldest work yet, an impassioned cry into the night that stirs something deep within us.

There’s no turning back.

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Lay It Down - Patrick James

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Mitch is the Editor-in-Chief of Atwood Magazine and a 2014 graduate from Tufts University, where he pursued his passions of music and psychology. He currently works at Universal Music Group in New York City. In his off hours, Mitch may be found songwriting, wandering about one of New York's many neighborhoods, or writing an article on your next favorite artist for Atwood. Mitch's words of wisdom to fellow musicians and music lovers are thus: Keep your eyes open and never stop exploring. No matter where you go, what you do or who you are with, you can always learn something new and inspire something amazing. Say hi here: mitch[at]atwoodmagazine[dot]com