'Them' by James Summerfield

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'Them' by James Summerfield


Many thanks to that great supporter of what we do (you can find him on no fewer than four tracks on "Hot Music Live Presents"), Jools Street, for giving me the heads up on James Summerfield with whom he's been working.

As James has been working on his seventh solo album, you can certainly not credit me with picking him up on my radar & sharing with you especially quickly but hopefully once ‘Them'  comes out on 18th September, then you can enjoy what Jools recommends.

Since James began in Buick 6 (later renamed The Toques) who played sessions for John Peel, you can see that his pedigree & experience dates back even before this long run of solo releases.

Now we've covered some excellent local-based Americana in both the magazine & the HMLP albums, but I for one certainly fear that after a peak of interesting original material from artists of that ilk, far too many copyists have jumped onto the bandwagon and saturated what was once quite a niche genre (I remember some years ago discussing with the Folly Brothers festivals they might play as there were really no Americana ones in those days) and it's hard to drill through to the honest and original purveyors. I've heard some pretty dreadful "Americana" in the last few weeks alone (not that I'd sully the magazine with the grisly details).

Thankfully James was loving this music & making his own long before the carpetbaggers decided to grab pieces of the action, and you can tell (let's face it, Jools wouldn't work with anyone other than the authentic would he? Nor would John Renbourne nor Ranking Roger to name two other luminaries).

This is the real McCoy: having played both the upcoming album (all the tracks are names: "Saul", "Woody", "Alice", "Sam", "Sally", "Santiago", "Thomas" and "Roman" and consist of narratives and conversations with the person concerned, though "Sally" concerns feral cats) and delving back into his back catalogue,  there is a marvellous range of songs in there:  from material that other, earlier reviewers have likened to Gillian Welch, alt-country, blue grass, spoken word, poetry settings, through very timeless & lo-fi authenticity to the downright experimental.

As well as Jools, ‘Them' also features Robin Murphy on guitars, pianet, synth & backing vocals, Joe Edwards on bass guitar, Sean Doherty on pedal steel, Gurdan Thomas on cornet while drumming is provided by both Jonathan Godsall & Richard Pharaoh.

Many thanks to Jools & subsequently James himself for alerting me to someone whose music I've been enjoying since I discovered it: without such guides I fear I'd find locating the gold amongst the dross of contemporary Americana a task beyond me….

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