LIFE and its trials and tribulations has a way of fostering, and delaying, creativity.
In early 2018 Newcastle singer-songwriter James Thomson spent six days at Melbourne's Union Street Studio with some of the Victorian capital's finest Americana musicians like Sean McMahon (guitar), Steve Hadley (bass) and Tracy McNeil (backing vocals) laying down album No.3.
Two years later, Golden Exile has finally arrived. The distractions of university study and work halted the album's release, but gladly the passing of time has done little to dull the warmth and soul at the heart of Thomson's songwriting.
Anybody that's seen Thomson live in the past year will recognise the country soul of Lying To Myself and the Van Morrison-esque Sunday Girl, which features the poppiest melody he's put to tape.
Thomson doesn't throttle his audience to attention with a wail of guitar and driving beats. Rather he's about subtle seduction.
He's always employed a gentle embrace with his honeyed laid-back vocal and alt-country arrangements, that never feel overplayed.
Golden Exile is sonically more mature than his 2015 record Cold Moon. Throughout Thomson dabbles with elements of psychedelica, particularly on Roll Away The Stone and the album's crowning moment, It Hurts Me Too, which carries a melancholic riff reminiscent of White Album-era Beatles.
The stunning outro on Fatal Ribbon Highway - featuring harmonies from Newcastle's Grace Turner and delicate keyboards - is another moment of beauty.
Golden Exile, like his previous work, carries a large debt to his musical heroes Bob Dylan and Neil Young. But it displays Thomson's own soul proudly too.
James Thomson's Golden Exile is released on Friday.