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4 1/2 Stars - Maverick Magazine

Susan James



**** 1/2

Californian hybrid-music maker delivers another passionate collection of songs

Following close in the highly acclaimed footsteps left by 2011’s HIGHWAYS, GHOSTS,

HEARTS & HOME, a somewhat career-marking project which gained the praise and interest

of rocker Ryan Adams, comes the splendid fifth full-length album release

from Californian hybrid-music maker Susan James. What an enchanting little

gem it is, with eight beautifully composed songs snapshotting points in a breaking

relationship and superb contributions from legendary musicians like Los Angeles

drummer Don Heffington (Buddy Miller, The Jayhawks, The Wallflowers), Iowan multiinstrumentalist Eric Heywood (Son Volt) and California-based guitarist Neal Casal (Ryan

Adams) amongst others, not to mention having been produced by Ryan Ulyate, who

has worked with the likes of Tom Petty and George Harrison, to name but two.

Resistant of being categorised into any one particular genre, James draws in a rich

backdrop of sounds to form the perfect canvas for enchanting words and a gentle

folkish voice, forming part of the album’s charm. The psychedelic title track, Driving

Toward The Sun, opens the album on a somewhat ethereal yesteryear folk-rock note,

providing a memorable favourite, whilst the equally as memorable country-fused

Wandering follows on, reminiscent of Sheryl Crow and laced with flavoursome pedal steel

from Chris Lawrence. U-Haul In The Driveway is easily one of the best songs on the record

and a firm highlight, with a great beat matched with infectious lyrics of broken

love’s farewell. Tule Fog too is very much in the same league; with the stirring chords

of pedal steel and acoustic guitar flowing beneath James’ pleasing voice, whilst the

beautifully peaceful and reflective Mission Bells closes the album perfectly with a sense

of musical grace. Obviously that early Apple whiz kid fan

Burrell Smith recognised her talent when he shyly handed her the $9,999 she needed to

make her debut, and with a gift for music both unique and beautiful, it wasn’t wasted.

Trust me; disappointment isn’t ever present when listening to Susan James.

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