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Milwaukee Music Premiere: Maxwell James, ‘Good at Being Alone’

A greyed-out image of a man looking flatly at the camera while sitting in a diner booth with one arm resting on the back of the booth.
Emma Lee Photography
Courtesy of the artist

Every week, Milwaukee Music Premiere connects the city’s artists with our listening audience. If you’re an artist with a track you’d like us to debut exclusively on Radio Milwaukee, head over to our Music Submission page to learn how.

Many artists are solitary by nature — space and time are good ingredients for creativity — and Milwaukee’s Maxwell James echoes this notion on his newest song, “Good At Being Alone.”

James spent his formative musical years in Nashville, building up experience and accolades in Music City before returning to his native home in 2020. Soon after, James released his second EP, Wheels, and was chosen as one of four artists for Radio Milwaukee’s Amplifier program. Since then, James has invested in his own recording setup and spent time laying down tracks for both himself and other musicians in his Menomonee Valley-based recording studio.

Talking about this Milwaukee Music Premiere, James shared that it’s “about being alone (not lonely) from the perspective of an introvert who likes people but needs a break periodically.” The lyrics get that across in an instant:

I don’t know why I’m like this
Why I put up walls around me
But I’m not made out of stone
I’m just good at being alone

It’s only when you’re all alone
You really come into your own
Suddenly it’s just so much easier to breathe
In the only place you’re really free

James does sound like he’s breaking through and achieving something personally rewarding throughout the journey of “Good At Being Alone,” setting boundaries and finding himself as a result.

The song draws from James’ deep well of styles. Influenced by both Nashville and Milwaukee, elements of folk get things going, with modern rock colliding and hooking in midway. Heavier layers of guitar, crisp percussion and strings ruffle things up before a fuzzed-out rock ‘n’ roll finish.

Use the player on this page to hear “Good at Being Alone” right now, listen for it on the 88Nine playlist, and expect more soon from James, who has plans to roll out singles in December and January.

88Nine Music Director / On-Air Talent | Radio Milwaukee