James Dunning, the Lost Immigrants’ front man and songwriter, offers little apology for his group’s sophomore studio effort. He characterizes the writing and song selection as a duality he's willing to live with and accept. One interpretation of the leanings and focus of the album would be to say it is more human. Or it could be said it is more solely focused as he handles the majority of the songwriting on this sophomore release.
Humans, for the most part, are complex creatures with a multitude of emotions and intentions. It's this diversity of that is on display with 'Pasaporte.' It is safer to stay close to home and stay warm next to the fire, but it's the cold nights on the road that bring appreciation.
The album in its entirety is reminiscent of Steve Earle's works before the political and social angst took over, and the instrumentation is varied from track to track. The approach offered by Producer John David Kent, who himself is a solid songwriter and musician, is a fresh, albeit classic old school Texas one.
'Pasaporte' seems like a writer's notebook of ideas and thoughts. Not a to-do list, but a map of best case scenarios of expression that is seldom accomplished in album form anymore.
'Song to sing' has a character easily portrayed by Dunning. The straight forward introspection and near repentance are likely places Dunning has personal experience. He pines for the road only because it is what he knows, and it is what knows him. Like a punch drunk boxer knows a mashing to his head is what makes him feel real.
The album moves along almost chronologically through 'Rolling stone' and 'Abilene' which illustrate more from the lifelong musician’s notebook. It might have been easy to make the effort a concept album; chronicling the life of one dogged songwriter or band, and it takes little effort to imagine that until the arrival of ' Rose of Tokyo. ' A fictional war is the backdrop for another character Dunning embodies flawlessly. It is never preachy; just chronicling a tale that that resonates with so many military families and citizens.
‘Genevieve’ perfectly encompasses the song’s content with its grinding nearly filthy production. A guitar that cuts and menaces like the woman Genevieve's sultry hips as she saunters away.
'Goodbye Seoul' is a wonderful little classic Texas romp through and across a dance floor. It picks up on the military themes and ideas, presumably picked up on the Lost Immigrants trips to Asia a few years ago as they performed for the American military. Dunning deftly walks a fine line between radio accessibility and a writer’s credibility with his lyrics here. Many writers well known and undiscovered have treaded the path without pulling this off. He does so with seeming ease.
The remainder of the album seems to be a mash up, or a mixed tape. A song like ‘AM radio’ sounds like a preview of what is to come for the band; the next step in The Lost Immigrants’ progression.
While ‘Below’ is a Slaid Cleeves penned song, it is easy to imagine it going well with ‘AM radio’ on their next album.
‘Red Leather Dress’ comes across as a reflection more so than a current feeling, and it’s placement seems tacked on to resolve more of the classic or Texas feel of the earlier songs. Perhaps it would’ve been more appropriate on ‘Waiting for Judgment day.’ Regardless it is a nice reprieve from the darker tones and scratchy guitars that take precedence near the end of the Album.
The album comes to a close perfectly through the Sean Isbell penned song ‘Rolling on’ as Sean has recently departed the band. It may sound cliché, but it is an appropriate ending to the musical relationship and the album as well. The chorus excerpted here is very telling.
“I’m gonna drive on down this highway
Till the pain in me is gone
Can’t look back, gotta keep moving on
If you think you’re going my way
Then I’ll be headed out at dawn
Done be late ‘cause these wheels they keep rollin’ on”
The album in its entirety stands up well with every recent release coming from Texas within the past year and is easily the best effort to come from a Dallas group or songwriter in recent memory.
For more Immigrants information: