Shaped with incisive chord progressions and enticing intros, tone, talent and guitars clearly dominate the debut album, Living The Dream, from British music artist James B. A collection of ten original tracks, catchy choruses and harmonies abound. Armed with a Strat, Les Paul and his trusty 1961 Gibson® ES-330, B’s vocal work is equally inviting. Listen closely for his reference to the Fab Four. But there is so much more to hear.
In The Rotation
While guitar is king on Living The Dream, vocals from the opening cut, “Shining On,” have an appealing analog quality, stopping just short of being lo-fi. Notice B’s Roger Daltrey-like stutter when he sings, “You have to sh-sh-shine on…” Yet, at the microphone, the musician also evokes a young Peter Frampton or perhaps Joe Walsh. When you have it, you have it. What’s more, song production stands as spotless. Thumbs up go to B right off the bat.
While the title cut sports a thicker ZZ Top instrumentation, the vocal work radiates a more pop-tinged rock radio magnetism. At 2:23 into the song, the recording briefly explodes into layers of sharply delayed guitar leads and fills before returning home. “Don’t Drink My Wine,” another fretboard treat, moves with aggressive picking and strumming. “Be With Me” carries a comparable message via a raw but raging wah pedal. In a nod to John, Paul, George and Ringo’s “A Day In The Life,” “Bad News,” written by B, begins, “I saw the news today, oh boy.” Come to think of it, in the spirit of Sgt. Pepper, both “Bad News” and “Be With Me” possess a distinct mind-altering air.
In a bit of a change up, “Stolen Spark” starts with a cleanly strummed acoustic six-string before gaining speed. Though “Pink Jackets and Sunglasses” commences as a rumbling blend of overdriven confusion, do not be fooled. The melody is warm and friendly with a payoff that jams. All things considered, James B’s Living The Dream scores an A in composition, writing, performance and recording. Available at Bandcamp, B wrote the lyrics and music and produced each of the songs.