The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

CD Review-Celestial Navigation James Hyland and the Joint Chiefs

By Joshua Knopp/entertainment editor

Celestial Navigation by James Hyland and the Joint Chiefs is truly special.

After being one of only two players with the South Austin Jug Band for its entire 10-year run, this album represents the start of Hyland’s solo career. While most solo careers are footnotes next to a great band, Hyland’s scenario could be just the opposite.

Classy touches run through this album like a backbone. The title Celestial Navigation isn’t taken from one of the songs. The songs never try to force themselves with volume or pace, remaining quiet and letting listeners pay as much attention as they want. Hyland’s smooth, controlled voice works in harmony with a plethora of Americana instruments, nothing ever really taking the foreground.

Class bleeds into amazement when the listener digs a little deeper.

First and most apparent is the fact that Hyland wrote eight of the 10 songs and co-wrote one of the remaining two, leaving no question as to whose creative style the album represents.

But more astounding and far stranger is this — the entire album is available over the  Internet on a name-your-price basis, meaning that every song on this album is purchasable legally for down to and including nothing. 

It’s one thing for a band to say it’s about the music and then charge $15-$20 for a CD, but quite another for an artist to give his work away.

One website reports this approach is because the album is fan-funded, since only one site says this and Celestial Navigation has a record label, that’s doubtful. What isn’t doubtful is that Hyland had to jump through quite a few hoops to get this deal cleared — record companies don’t give their product away for nothing.

Celestial Navigation represents a work of art that, for once, is truly focused on the art itself. Hyland deserves no end of praise for this, and hopefully he’ll get at least a little cash as well.

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