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Colin James announces ‘Chasing the Sun’

Colin James announces ‘Chasing the Sun’

4 minutes, 33 seconds Read

For an artist, having some big guests on your album can be a double-edged sword: it will certainly get you some attention, but there is always the danger of being pushed out of the spotlight. a supporting player in your own production. Fortunately, no one is pushing Colin James into the wings. With nearly four decades of experience in the industry – and a slew of record sales and critical acclaim to prove it – the Vancouver blues rocker has thrown open the door to welcome a house party full of friends and mentors at 21.st and last, Chasing the sun, which streets on August 23rd. Appearances from legendary figures such as Charlie Musselwhite, Lucinda Williams, Darryl Jones and Charley Drayton energize an album that boils with the intensity of a thousand spotless reputations. But the formula remains 100-proof James throughout: a distillation of the unique and passionate vision that has anchored him as a musician in the hearts of millions of record buyers worldwide.

Take the spotlight track “Devilment,” a blast of fire-and-brimstone blues that fits the title, and features a red-hot harmonica from the iconic Musselwhite. You can hear every breath of authenticity that Musselwhite has lived and breathed for more than half a century as both a Grammy-nominated harpist and a respected sideman for heavyweights like Bonnie Raitt and the Blind Boys of Alabama. Yet his own contribution never outshines James’ sharp guitar and barroom-approved vocals, as the latter sings the praises of a woman who is not only “lovely” and good, but also “has the devil in her head.”

Pumping the enthusiasm even further into the stratosphere are bassist Jones and drummer Drayton, whose mile-long pedigree (both together and separately) includes work with everyone from the Rolling Stones, Miles Davis and Neil Young to Sting, Paul Simon and Johnny Cash. And that’s not even counting the additional instrumental assistance of co-producer Colin Linden, who played guitar, bass and dobro on the album – and coincidentally also co-wrote “Devilment.” (Earlier versions of the song appeared in 2009 on separate albums by Linden and his co-writer, Toronto bluesman Paul Reddick.)

For Linden, who has produced six albums with James since they began working together in 1997, the new album is certainly an example of enriching, not diluting, his friend’s boundless talents. “Colin is still so busy with his own artistic development,” he marvels. “And every time we went deeper into it, it just got better, which isn’t always the case. There are some places on the record where I can’t tell if it’s me or him playing guitar, even though we play differently. There is a blending of styles indicative of the spirit of serving the music.

That means it’s served wherever it goes. For the spiritual flipside of “Devilment,” listen to album opener “Protection,” a sinuously poignant cover of Williams’ 2014 plea for redemption from life’s dark forces. James’ performance soars thanks to the perfect synchronization between his own singing and the unmistakable vocal assistance of the Americana icon himself.

“Lucinda is such a respected songwriter, such a legend,” enthuses James. ‘But she’s so nice. And it was so nice to hear our voices together on tape.” And with gospel greats Ann and Regina McCrary also joining in, who in heaven could deny their tenderest grace?

Captured for posterity at Nashville’s Pinhead Recorders – a 9,000-square-foot, ‘purpose-built’, self-contained home studio in Linden’s backyard –Chasing the sun is a cleverly curated set of songs pulled from everywhere. Searing originals like “Star Studded Sky” and “This Song Kills Hate” represent the best collaborations of James’ career and a host of Canadian compadres, including Tom Wilson of Junkhouse and Blackie and the Rodeo Kings and Colin and John-Angus MacDonald of rock maulers The Trews. What adds flavor are four carefully chosen covers from the songbooks of giants such as John Hammond and Paul Butterfield. The track list contains a total of eleven songs: nine on the album itself, and another two offered for download (including ‘Come to Find Out’, another collaboration with Musselwhite)..

Chasing the sun is the latest milestone in a career that has racked up high after high since 1988, when James’ self-titled debut became the fastest-selling album in Canadian history and earned him his first JUNO Award. (It helps if one of your first champions has a profile like Stevie Ray Vaughan’s.) Since then, James has collected multiple gold and platinum awards, scored a No. 3 radio hit in the United States (“Just Came Back”) and shared music airspace. with a who’s who of greats, including Keith Richards, Albert Collins, Albert King, ZZ Top, the Chieftains, Carlos Santana and Buddy Guy. In addition, he has received eight JUNOs and 31 Maple Blues Awards and has been inducted into the Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame. Last year, he scored his first nod from the Memphis-based Blues Foundation, which nominated him in the Best Blues Rock Album category for its 2021 collection. Open road.

So don’t put him in an early bloomer: for James, the road has only gotten easier and more rewarding over time. “Maybe people don’t believe in a bluesman in his early twenties,” he laughs. “When you knock on the door at 60, people say, ‘Oh yeah, come on in.’”

Yes please. And bring your friends.

TRACKLIST

1 Protection (with Lucinda Williams) 4:53
2 I’m still alive 5:18
3 Devilment (with Charlie Musselwhite) 3:16
4 Crystal Ball 3:37
5 What it feels like to be loved 6:06
6-star studded sky 4:13
7 Gone too far 3:51
8 In my own dream 4:53
9 This song kills hatred 4:24
10 Find Out (with Charlie Musselwhite) 5:02
11 Open Your Mind 4:43

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