William Fitzsimmons - Gold in the Shadow

Album cover
Electronica, Folk
Mercer Street
William Fitzsimmons
Gold in the Shadow
William Fitzsimmons - Gold in the Shadow Review rating:
5
User rating:
Average: 4.8 (4 votes)

Who knew that such melancholic tunes could excite me so? His name is William Fitzsimmons, and his game is to write the most gut-wrenchingly honest, heart-on-sleeve poetic folk songs streaming today. His work has been renowned all over the world, including Australia and the UK, and in the states, his prior masterpiece Sparrow and the Crow, released in 2008, reached #1 on iTunes Folk Albums Chart. Subsequently, it was named the top Folk Album by the same musical giant. On top of that, Fitzsimmons’ art has been featured on the medical drama Grey’s Anatomy, known for its heavy-use of good music more towards the end of the show, and also One Tree Hill. Accolades aside, the man’s a pure songwriting genius, and the songs that he creates overshadow, or at least match, his contemporaries in the same vein as Elliot Smith, Iron & Wine, and Sufjan Stevens. No different from his previous albums, yet not showing any signs of repetition or redundancy, his new album Gold in the Shadow is yet another folk-gem to add to his startling discography.

The history of the man is enough of a story to intrigue the hardest of hearts in this country. To those unfamiliar with Fitzsimmons’ narrative, he was born to two blind parents, whom subsequently divorced after helping shape his musical apparatus through teaching Fitzsimmons the pipe organ, mandolin, banjo, piano, ukulele, and finally guitar, gave him enough material to last a lifetime. After achieving a Master’s Degree in Counseling from Geneva College, he worked with the mentally ill for several years. Only after recording a collection of songs inspired by his patients did he decide to give himself fully to his songwriting talents. And God bless us for that. His first two albums Until When We Are Ghosts (2005) and Goodnight (2006) were both self-produced in his former home in Pittsburgh, PA. His critically acclaimed opus Sparrow and the Crow followed shortly in 2008. Fitzsimmons has a knack for blending experimentation while not overshadowing the simplicity and minimalism that makes a great folk album. The greatest example is shown in his latest album Gold in the Shadow.

Opener “The Tide Pulls from the Moon” begins such a trek as to shatter the tedious walls by opening with a tender clean electric guitar riff, then following suit is Fitzsimmons’ lush and angelically hushed vocals gently over the full-instrumentals. His earlier albums seemed to follow a very strenuous situation in his life, such as his parents’ divorce, then his own divorce was the main inspiration behind Sparrow. However, Gold in the Shadow’s lyrical prowess doesn’t seem to follow the same trend. Fitzsimmons uses a more poetic, and less direct references than his prior work, but uses metaphors and elemental observations to connect the music in one wonderfully symphonic masterpiece. If love had a language, then Fitzsimmons would be the ambassador, as his music exemplifies a sincere and genuine experience for the listener to fall in love with. Mixing simple folk acoustics with an electronic/synthetic back-drop, he has learned how to tap into the listener’s heart and mind simultaneously.

At the risk of sacrificing the little credibility I have; also sounding quite possibly hyperbolic in every sense of the word, William Fitzsimmons has crafted one of the best albums of all-time within the folk genre with Gold in the Shadow.

1. The Tide Pulls From the Moon
2. Beautiful Girl
3. The Winter from Her Leaving
4. Fade and then Return
5. Psychasthenia
6. Bird of Winter Prey
7. Let You Break (feat. Julia Stone)
8. Wounded Head
9. Tied to Me
10. What Hold

William Fitzsimmons' songs quickly find their way into your heart, if not through your head then through each song's subtle exposé of life's emotional tribulations. Fitzsimmons is life-tuned to sensing the nuances that many people miss but whose telling truths are immediately evident in the first listen. Fans and most of his critics embrace his works for their expressive originality and courage.

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