Darrin James

Darrin James

 Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
BandRockSinger/Songwriter

"Singer-songwriter Darrin James touches on Robbie Robertson’s gruff soulfulness, Tom Waits’ vaudevillian menace and Paul Westerberg’s ramshackle charm. James has a talent for perceptive lyrics and memorable tunes; his crack band suppllies the laid back grooves. " Time Out NY

Band Press

Dissolver Magazine – April 2007

Thrones of Gold, the debut from the Darrin James Band, is a strong disk the whole way through, incorporating an inspiring variety of musical styles and lyrical themes...With a rugged voice and virtuoso guitar skills, James and his band make the most of his well-written songs."
- By Jon Gorey

www.dissolvermagazine.com

Time Out New York – October 2, 2008

"Brooklyn singer-songwriter Darrin James touches on Robbie Robertson’s gruff soulfulness, Tom Waits’ vaudevillian menace and Paul Westerberg’s ramshackle charm. His bluesy rockers carry perceptive lyrics and memorable tunes; his crack band supplies the laid-back grooves.

Deli Magazine – www.delimagazine.com

"The man's got Joe Henry versatility, a crackerjack studio band, and a great sense of craft... from a Lovett/Waits blues into a John Prine diatribe then rocketing off with an Elvis Costello pop gem. The record was made with a lineup featuring seriously tasty musicians making notable decisions that allow Darrin’s throaty vocals to take the foreground. It’s got it all. "
- By Walt Wells

Blog Ctirics Review – May 2007

"Darrin James distills hard-edged soul and craggy Americana into a redolent tincture that I've come to think of as New York City Melting Pot ...Its literate lyrics and subject matter are a big part of why Thrones of Gold stands as one of the best indie productions of the year."
by Jon Sobel

www.blogcritics.org

Pace University Press – April 2007

"Born to sing the blues, Darrin James tears at the soul...There's an uncanny, effortless authenticity to it that is aloof and genius at the same time. The Brooklyn-based musician has a certain weary, detached air about him, as if he barely realizes the scope of his words and music while executing them in untroubled fluency. Despite such ease in his music, every song is tinged with raw emotion...undeniable talent and originality." - Julyssa Lopez

Blues Bunny Magazine (U.K.) – April 2007

This is an album of contrasts. From straight rock to dark songs in the style of Leonard Cohen to Southside Johnny soul influenced rock, the influences are certainly many and varied. It is one for people who like something a bit different rather than straight down the line pop music.

The opening track "Trivial" is a cracking piece of pure rock, and is followed by the more soulful organ influenced funky rock sound of "Duct Tape". Two classy numbers that have genuine hit potential if given the airplay they richly deserve. With a couple of excellent rockers to open, you could be forgiven for thinking that you would be getting more of the same. Instead the rest of the album meanders its way through some diverse and often intriguing performances.

With "Herie" we have what very much sounds like a personal piece of cathartic musical story telling - dark and verging on disturbing it may be, yet sung with a feeling that is rare in a musical climate that rewards insipidness. "Only a Woman" is another particularly outstanding song with Darrin's throaty and gravely vocals giving an extra edge to some cutting lyrics. "Faith on the Run" is a surprisingly catchy country rock style number; while "Crazy World" has a strong Doors influence. And nowhere is the eclectic nature of this album more apparent than with "Thrones of Gold" which actually brings to mind the Soggy Bottom Boys from "O Brother Where Art Thou?"

This is singing and song writing as it should be. Darrin creates music that you want to listen to, that can be fun, and yet at the same time he is not afraid to deal with challenging subject matter when the need arises.

Americana UK Review – June 2007

An intriguing debut for his own record label...

Residing in Brooklyn NY, where James and his wife settled following their year long honeymoon travelling the world, he’s bought back lots of influences from his travels. Bit of a worry though having a song on his album entitled ‘Hate That Word’ which is an indictment about love. Wonder what his wife thinks?

Initial listens to this album indicated a blues leaning. His voice is gruff and rough and suited to the delta blues or jazz but this cd is far more than that. Whilst ‘Had Enough Of Me’ and ‘Crazy World’ demonstrates his fondness for Tom Waits and some tracks include Colin Stetson on tenor sax (who’s played with Waits), this isn’t ‘Heart Attack and Vine’ revisited.

Opener ‘Trivial’ kicks the album off in Springsteen style. With its rousing chorus and loud guitar continually punching its way through. Followed by some funky organ on ‘Duct Tape’ it expands the expectation of what this album is all about. The title song brings in some bluegrass that harks back to ‘O Brother Where Art Thou’? Three songs in and we’ve experienced a raft of styles already. ‘Faith On The Run’ supplies a catchy country rock tune that’s got hit written all over it.

But the best track here is ‘Herie’ which James wrote back in 2000. About a friend who fought in the Iran war, and the hatred that took over him after his family was murdered in front of his eyes, it outlines the narrator’s concerns that he won’t be able to love again, and will continue to keep hatred closer to him.

Penultimate song ‘In The End’ brings in masses of guitar solo’s as James describes walking the desolate streets of Lafayette as he struggles with where he’ll end up at the end of his life, “Some say heaven, some say hell, I believe the latter, would suit me just as well”. Not a positive song.

But the final entry in this musical diary ‘Lucky man’ gives him the realisation he’s looking for. “I’m a lucky man, I sink my toes in the sand. I’m lost in a foreign land, so I’m lucky that I got you. I hope you feel lucky too”. Sounds like a love song to his wife to me. Maybe it was inspired by his honeymoon. “We share a language and a destination. We share a ticket and an invitation”.

He’s only joking about his views of love I reckon. He knows what side his bread is buttered.

Vintage Guitar Magazine – January 2010

"Saying James fits the mold of great songwriters could too easily have him fall by the wayside, like many others who have gone that route. But, given his writing, singing, and playing talent's , that's unlikely."

Pittsburgh Daily News – "Darrin James Band Drip Unique Gem"

When you review as many albums as we do each year in The Daily News, it’s easy to become jaded and more than a little cynical. Because it’s the nature of the music business — or for that matter, the entertainment industry as a whole — to find something that works and then copy it. That’s why so many bands sound the same at any given time. So when someone with an original voice comes along, we, as critics, invariably find ourselves drawn to the port in the musical storm. Darrin James is one such artist… The talented singer/songwriter and his Darrin James Band mates don’t fit neatly into any musical category. There are elements of rock, folk, country and blues evident throughout fantastic sophomore release “The Lovely Ugly Truth.” With a shape-shifting voice that has drawn comparisons to Robbie Robertson, Tom Waits and John Prine, the 12 songs gathered here are uniformly strong…You’ll have a hard time finding a song you don’t like on “The Lovely Ugly Truth” — and that doesn’t happen very often. - by Jeffrey Sisk

North of the Border – October 2009

"This Brooklyn singer-songwriter sounds more like an east Texas swamp-rock veteran than a Yankee musician, but his love for roots music like blues, country and soul combine to spin out dark lyrics of desperate characters and situations…His gruff, growling vocals bring a Tom Waits comparison, but has more of a Springsteen sound to me….There is little doubt that this first-class, gut-bucket blues and swamp rock album with some serious subject matters will take more than a few spins to get the full effect, but I think you’ll get a big kick out of it."