James has kept his fans waiting quite some time. It’s been 14 years since the debut album Ghost of the Wind. In addition to his musical talents, James has another string to his bow as he runs a film production company. It therefore seems appropriate that he has produced a number of video blogs documenting the conception of this album. In these we are taken through the long and painful journey that James took before deciding eventually to record the songs all by himself on a moored boat.
The resulting recordings are stripped back and intimate. This is a no nonsense acoustic album serving up a colourful cocktail of Jazz, Latin and Blues. The guitar arrangements in particular are delicate, intricate and exquisite throughout. James has also found a new maturity in his performance. His vocals are warmer and richer than ever and he now reaches some surprisingly high notes.
The themes of the songs are heartfelt and honest. The standout track for me is “Going Crazy”, which is a playful song that probably describes how many of us feel some days. It is irresistibly catchy and surely deserves to be played extensively on our airwaves. Other songs take us through the myriad of emotions that are evoked by life and love.
The real success story for James is that he has made a quality album on his own and as a result has not had to make any compromises. Hopefully James won’t make us wait quite so long for his next release, however in this case, like a matured fine wine it has been worth the wait.
Bruce Gordon, 18th October 2011
(Bruce is currently lead singer and songwriter with The Get and has made a number of theatrical and stage performances)
All tracks for ‘Cocktail of Blues’ are available for streaming in full on Soundcloud! Click below to play the songs: