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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Jose James - The Dreamer

The whole sound of the album is permeated with the smell of booze and cigarettes, and it’s easy to imagine being in a small, dark lit smoky venue - a setting that we are never likely to see again in this country. The dilemma is that removed from that setting and exposed on record, it comes dangerously close to just becoming background music.

It’s a sparse album with minimal instrumentation and is clearly a showcase for José’s voice. The opening duo of The Dreamer and Velvet lets him set the scene; they’re pretty languid, and just about retain interest. Park Bench People picks up the pace, musically is has a very seventies movie soundtrack feel to it. On Spirits up Above he is joined by Junior Mance and allows him, and the band, to stretch out. The next couple of songs are in a similar vein and the album’s tempo picks up a little. But Winter Wind, Desire and Love by and large return the album to the more contemplative mood of the earlier songs.

The singing and playing are of course impeccable all the way through, but I found it difficult to truly engage with the album. It’s an old cliché, but this album is probably best savoured after midnight with bourbon.

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