With his warm, rich tenor and emotionally powerful songs,
Brendan James announces himself as an artist-to-watch on his
dazzling debut album The Day is Brave. Rooted in the
classic singer/songwriter tradition, with its introspective
lyrics and unforgettable melodies, the album is 11 tracks of
stunning songcraft: elegant, earthy, and displaying a total lack
of artifice that is rare in the pop world these days. Influenced by the understated simplicity of the Carly Simon, James Taylor, and Carole King records he grew up
with, James knew he wanted his debut to sound natural and
unaffected. “The phrase ‘stripped-down’ is so overused, and
‘bare-bones’ doesn’t really describe it,” he says, “but I wanted
the simplicity of the art to come through. I wanted it to have
tasteful blend of folk and pop influences.” “It feels
great to make this record on my own terms.” James says. “These
songs have been pent up in my mind for years and to get them
finished and out there for people to hear is extremely exciting.
I’m looking forward to playing for anyone that will listen,”
James says with a smile on his face.
Review of The Day Is Brave
Here is an album that did not really grab me on the first listen through. Okay,
I was also kind of PO'ed that the review did not come with a track listing,
which makes it awfully difficult to know what song is playing. So you
should know I was not looking forward to reviewing this. Well usually I tell you
what I like about the album prior to dishing out what I dislike. This time
I am doing it in reverse. Why change my tactic? Because as I had
mentioned, I did not like it, but after listening to the album another 3 times,
it kept on getting better. So, what did I dislike about
Brendan James' debut album
The Day Is Brave?
My main complaint was that many of the songs sounded the
same - or at least very similar styles and he maintains a constant vocal range.
Even to a critical ear, I must admit that the tone and temp of the songs do not
change much. A little more diversity would have been nice to hear, and
even when he tries to mix it up, such as in what I would consider his
Elton Johnish "The Other Side," it still does
not go to any extremes. My second complaint, which I still maintain even
now is that he has a guitar voice - not a piano voice. His songwriting is
more attuned to a Billy Joel or Elton, but his
voice would meld more nicely with the chords of an acoustic guitar. I know
he learned piano specifically for the purposes of singing and writing his songs,
but Brendan, if you are reading this . . . try a guitar.
Okay, now that I have got that off of my chest, the album became increasingly
better with each listen through. In my second time listening to this, or
any album, I then put on my critical ears and really take a listen to the music
and the lyrics. The instrumentals are above average, and the production is
good, but the guy's voice and lyrics are the highlight of this album.
There is something very "nice" and reassuring about his voice. It has that
special quality you hear in some of the big name stars, although I do wish he
would try to hit that high note - or even the low note, especially when the song
or background instruments call for it.
I like his voice, but better yet is the lyrics. I mean they are really,
really good. He weaves stories into each of his songs, with much depth and
meaning. They are beautiful words with strong sentiments of emotional
variety. If you listen to this album, just stop and listen to the words
especially in songs like "Manchester," "Hero's Song" and "Run Away" -- but all
of the songs contain a poetic beauty.
Brendan James sings and plays music. Real music.
Review of The Ballroom Break-In (EP)
Brendan James' debut EP gives
us a taste of what is to come for this young talented artist. James
provides us with a fresh sound that in many ways is retrospective of some great
folksy music of the 1970s. Influences such as Carole King and "Sweet Baby" James
Taylor are hard to miss in his music and lyrical style. I also hear a lot of
Elton John in some of his songs.
The writing is very good and the lyrics are
what give the music that extra something special that many of today's songs are
missing. Already his songs are making an influence in the music scene and
his song "The Day Is Brave" has made it up to #13 on iTunes Alternative/Pop
If this is just the EP, I really cannot wait for the full album to be