It’s official: James Levy has signed to Side Hustle Records for a new solo album, his first full-length since 2019’s Somebody. Today, the Nashville-via-NYC indie rocker shares the album’s title track and lead single, “Soldier,” premiering below.
“I was watching the show ‘Normal People’ and out of the blue the song came to mind,” Levy tells American Songwriter of the track, an equally brooding and entrancing new wave number. “I wrote it very quickly and recorded it. It ended up being the catalyst to make a full record.”
Lyrically, “Soldier” is a pretty gloomy affair, but musically, it’s driving and layered. “I’ve lost my sight / I’ve lost my bite / I’ve lost my wrong / I’ve lost my right,” Levy sings in the track, his voice deep and searching. “I used to feel like a soldier / I guess I can feel I’m getting older.”
If the former Reputante frontman channels regret in “Soldier,” he also channels something wistful and nostalgic. “Can I cry on your shoulder,” he booms in a later verse, drawing out the word “cry.” “I failed the test / I’ve made a mess,” he continues. “I shoulda listened to them I guess / I could’ve been a little bolder / I guess I feel I’m getting older.”
“I sang whatever came to mind knowing that I wouldn’t edit it,” Levy recalls. “It felt like no matter what I said the feeling would come through.”
The song comes with a video directed by Levy’s former LOLAWOLF bandmate Jimmy Giannopoulous. “[He] shot the video in downtown [Los Angeles],” says Levy of the production, featured below. “He felt we needed something that felt like old New York.”
“Soldier” is Levy’s first release of 2021 following 2020’s “I Will Always” and “Rotten Love,” plus collaborations with Herman Dune, Allison Pierce, and Cat Pierce. The singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer also had a hand in crafting the late soul singer Charles Bradley’s posthumously released “Lonely as You Are” and “Lucifer,” both of which arrived in 2019.
Levy wrote and recorded his forthcoming album in just two weeks. “I hadn’t been writing anything that I’d liked in a while,” he says. “I don’t usually record my own records so it’s really something I’m proud of and surprised by. I guess the combination of more solitude than usual in combination with a random TV show created something in me.”
Check out the first glimpse of the record below. Soldier is due later this spring via Side Hustle Records.
Photo by Jimmy Giannopoulos