* Prices may differ from that shown
Casey James-Casey James ---------------------------------------- Amazon £8.60 Amazon Marketplace sellers from £4.69 including delivery shipped from Canada/US Country Southern Rock Blues -------------------------------------------- My music collection tends to focus on sounds that encompass rock, country and blues and so to find an artist who could marry these up perfectly was a dream come true for me. I discovered him on American Idol where he finished third in Season 9- Casey James. You may remember him as the soulful southern country rocker from Texas with hair like goldilocks and a serious guitar talent. I think for many people he may have been liked initially and then, due to his commitment to honour his musical aspirations over simply churning out an album with lightening speed, have been subsequently forgotten. Choosing the former more difficult path may have caused him to be cast aside by some, which is a shame because he has been determined to create a showcase of his musical abilities, song writing, guitar playing and general soulful direction. Signed up by the prestigious Sony Music label in Nashville must have been a dream come true for this guy, who spent most of his twenties playing local gigs to his home in Texas, unloading gear and loading after shows all by himself. It was this familiarity with the performing side that really made him at home on the American Idol stage, and what has followed now, with the release of his album, is an in-depth look at what makes Casey tick and what direction his music is taking. The album is a journey and one I love. It takes you along Texan roads in high summer - the dirt rising from the wheels, sun blazing down, everything cool and laid back. It's about romance, love, simple pleasures, losing someone, finding someone and most of all appreciating life in all its colours. I love it! What strikes me most about Casey is that his guitar playing talent is simply outstanding. Not only is he a talented vocalist, but his ability to play makes these songs so special, and each unique track is full of different guitar sounds. Yes the album is country but it isn't raw country, So far two of the tracks have been released as singles - "Let's Don't Call It a Night" and "Crying on a Suitcase" and both have videos that have been made. I think my favourite track has to be one entitled "Drive" which is purely about his love of doing just that! "I don't care if it's a highway or a dirty county road I don't care if I'm leaving or coming home I don't know if it's the song on that too loud radio I don't know if it's the smell of that burning smoke Here I go" This is simply about driving for the sake of it - a summer day, the open road, time on your hands and away- it is a wonderful feeling and an escape from the chains of everyday life! It reminds me so much of when my eldest son passed his driving test 10 years ago and bought an old yellow Capri. One summer he took me for a drive and I remember the fields were high with the summer crops, and when I asked him where we were heading he simply replied- "we're just driving!" Many of the tracks were written as a result of the feelings he had concerning being apart from loved ones - his father was a truck driver and would be away a lot, and then after his American Idol success being at home 24/7 was impractical, so he experienced all the intensity of loss when those you care about are miles away but still in your heart. Casey wrote 9 of the 11 tracks and so the direction of the songs is very much of his own making. As you would expect from a country album stories are told in the songs and add to the overall chilled feeling this album has. There is no doubt in my mind that this album is a triumph and due to many things, but must surely include the turmoil Casey went through in 2004 when a motorcycle accident almost cost him his life, and when he was told he would never play the guitar again due to severe compound fractures. This adversity drove him on, and he defeated all the odds and was able to recover and move on with his music career. In spite of this the album has an upbeat feel to it reflecting his age and optimistic outlook, so the vibe is uplifting, and the opening track - "Good Life" is exactly that! I love the simple lyrics - "Morning coffee, Jelly over warm cornbread, Old boots new socks- it is a new day!" It might sound simple but the musical ability needed to create a song of this quality is anything but as Casey plays several complicated guitar pieces. However it is a song that celebrates the simple pleasures that are so important when life has previously hung in the balance. Another favourite track on mine has to be "Crying On A Suitcase" - now with a brand new video. It tells the story of a relationship teetering on the edge between ending and lasting, as the girl is at the airport waiting at the gate, and her boyfriend makes that last minute decision to stop her- "Boy don't wait, don't think, don't lock the door behind you Run and jump into your truck, hit the gas, burn some rubber up Yeah your time's running out Do it now Take a short cut, take a back road, take the shoulder to the exit Skip the parking, screw the ticket, hit the curb and leave it sitting Whatever it takes You gotta get to that gate" The Future For Casey? ------------------------------- Having retired from the limelight for almost 2 years making this album I suppose the question is will Casey make a place for himself in the country music scene for the long term? Initial record sales were good, but I feel he needed more of a compromise in time to keep those initial interests alive that were first kindled on American Idol. Some of his UK fans may have simply failed to actively pursue news of his upcoming releases, wrongly believing he had failed to sign a contract with a record label. Surely that is so much better than churning out something at speed purely to keep in the forefront of minds who would be moderately disappointed with a second rate offering. My Final Thoughts -------------------------- For me this has to be in my top few CDs in my collection. It is a CD for driving -pick a journey- preferably on a country road or by the coast- and it will inspire you. Think Bryan Adams, Keith Urban, he is somewhere in between these guys but with a unique Texan style. He is southern country rock at its best. The album cover has cool blue artwork - Casey with golden curls, denim jacket, the background a weathered car with rusty trim. He'll take you for a ride if you listen to this CD - I love it! http://www.caseyjamesofficial.com/home Previously published on Ciao under my user name Violet1278.