William Fitzsimmons switched careers from therapist to musician, and his work has always had a healing quality to it. The bald, bearded bard has conquered network television show soundtracks with his emotional acoustic folk and his sixth LP Lions doesn’t stray too far from its predecessors.
Lions is said to trace troubles Fitzsimmons has faced in the years since 2011′s Gold in the Shadow, but that abstraction isn’t fully clarified throughout the new record. For the most part, Lions sounds melodically stagnant and one-dimensional. “Took” sounds recorded in his bedroom, with multiple guitar tracks layered on top of one another, a delay-pedaled electric guitar line ricocheting between clean quarter note strums and acoustic fingerpicking. The lyrics tell of someone saving Fitzsimmons from some ambiguous punishment, and the complicated emotional responses it elicited, but he never gets more specific. “Centralia” opens with a heavily distorted electric guitar riff that quickly recedes, while Fitzsimmons whispers sweet poetry — vague conflicts of running and falling. It’s all beautifully soothing, if a bit predictable.