Self issued (label)
01 February 2014 (released)
01 February 2014
It is difficult to understand why James Stevenson has never released an album of his own music before.
He was a stalwart of the punk era, playing with Chelsea (In the Billy Idol days) and then later with Gen X when he hooked up again with Billy Idol and with Tony James, He also worked with UK Subs Charlie Harper and with Henry Badowski before joining Kim Wilde’s band for ‘Kids In America’.
He has also had stints with The Cult and with Gene Loves Jezebel and has been a regular choice for the session circuit for years.
All told, a remarkable career and, from the looks of this album, it ain’t over yet. Someone tell me why this isn’t being played all over the airwaves?
Co-produced with keyboardsman Mark Taylor this is dark and powerful rock with some strong songs and, unsurprisingly, some great guitar.
It is squarely in the rock idiom but it isn’t the predictable and plodding stuff that usually comes out of lesser players – the vocals and keyboards are as much the lead as the guitar and he plays with moods and emotions as well as with rhythms and riffs. Vocally he isn’t a screamer but his understated style creates the range of emotion and his guitar fills in the rest with soulful touches and languid playing.
Take a track like ‘Come On People’: it has a soulful feel to it but the music is dark and complex with the guitar weaving in and around the organ and when a trumpet peals in to the last knockings it creates a desperately lonely tome that really hits the emotional buttons. His guitar playing is sublime and the whole track is a perfect construct – about as good as rock gets.
Elsewhere the wistful ‘Why Am I Still Waiting For You?’ and the strident ‘Naturally Wired’ show different sides to the man.
The title track is dark and powerful and it is topped out by its companion piece ’I’ll Know Where I’m Going When I Get There’ which is almost folky in its simplicity and tenderness.
A really satisfying album and in a world where there are just too many ‘average’ albums it stands out as a beacon of good music.