Sam James is a remarkable musician. His music is steeped in the Blues but somehow he manages a completely unique voice in a massively oversubscribed genre.
This EP is the first of a series that will be released over the next twelve months.
Intriguingly it comprises three different songs but each is presented as a solo piece and separately with a ‘band’ (in fact he plays all the instruments) and the two forms are very different.
James says of the EP
“I have some fans who’ve said they’d like to hear me with a band, but I also have some fans who prefer my music how it’s always been. Almost every song I’ve recorded has been an original, but in my live sets I play some traditionals as well. With Already Home I figured I could give the fans something they’ve always liked as well as something new. The bigger part, of course, paying homage to the traditions I come from.”
It opens with a version of R. L. Burnside’s ‘Poor Black Mattie’, here titled ‘Cold Black Mattie’. The solo version is dark and there is a sense of incredible claustrophobia about his singing against a beautiful resonator style guitar but if you compare that with the band version it is a totally different song – a strong beat, banjo and his vocal style much stronger.
‘Old Dan Tucker’ has been around for at least 175 years and the number is far more reflective of the Samuel James I’ve seen live a number of times – he is a consummate story teller and he sings this as it was often played in the 19th century; a minstrel number replete with humour. The full band version is actually slower and harder, with a pounding rhythm, more in line with modern Blues.
The third number(s), ‘The Last Night’, were written by James and show his particular sense of sardonic humour and style.
Samuel James is unique and in today’s mass-produced line of genre musicians he stands out as a beacon of originality. I can’t wait for the next instalment.
With the purchase of Already Home Volume 1 will come a subscription to the next three volumes. Each volume will be released digitally every 4 months for a year’s time. Also, each volume will consist of one traditionally white American folk song, one traditionally African American folk song and one original by Samuel James. Each volume will also contain both solo acoustic and full band versions of each song.