Probably the best thing about the production by David Travers-Smith (Wailin' Jennys, Deerhoof) is that you never notice it. There is no "room" or anything layered in or added until the closing "Ghost," where James plugs in and stacks tracks on top of each other to suggest the ethereal quality of the song's namesake. It's not "raw," but rather a direct pipeline to what it is Samuel James has to say.

It's like listening to an interior monologue sometimes. "Turkish Curse" is a driving force of notes, but James's vocals are almost off-hand. "You can tear, and you can scratch, at the bindings/But those motherfuckers are built to last," James offers as observation while he plays a cycling repetition like watching the solar system spin and each planet ringing at a different pitch as it flies by.

And then there is "Rocket Man," James doing John and Taupin. You'd hardly know it was the same song, so much akin to everything else on the album, the words you know so well tumbling out of James's mouth like a ball rolling down a cobblestone street. It's hard to even call it a cover. He's taken the song and just subsumed it.

"Mars ain't the kind of place to raise your kids" — and neither is the where (and when) from which Samuel James's songs originate.

AND FOR THE DARK ROAD AHEAD | Released by Samuel James | on Northernblues Music | with Sontiago + dilly dilly + Zach Jones + Henry Jamison + Meantone + D Gross + Darien Brahms + Amanda Gervasi + Max Garcia Conover + Atomic Trash | at SPACE Gallery, in Portland | Oct 20 | therealsamueljames.com

< prev  1  |  2  | 
| More


Most Popular
ARTICLES BY SAM PFEIFLE
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   CRUEL INTENTIONS  |  September 12, 2014
    Portland music scene release dates for the fall.
  •   MIND OVER MIND  |  September 04, 2014
    As a string band, Dark Hollow Bottling Company were an awfully good rock band. Much of that spirit continues in Dark Hollow singer Greg Klein’s new project, GK and the Right of Way.
  •   DISCOVERING SHENNA BELLOWS  |  September 01, 2014
    Long walks and straight talk with the Democractic Senate challenger.
  •   PARTLY SUNNY  |  August 31, 2014
    Mike Clouds' new Apollo's Stamina
  •   NEW WORDS, OLD BEATS  |  August 31, 2014
    Whatever the rap equivalent of “she could sing the phone book and I’d dig it” is, that’s Essence for me.  

 See all articles by: SAM PFEIFLE