Darrin James
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Darrin James

White Lake, Michigan, United States | INDIE

White Lake, Michigan, United States | INDIE
Band Americana Singer/Songwriter


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Pop Matters"

With wit and smart wordplay,... a raw and expressive voice...the band has a solid organic sound throughout, an impressive credential considering the scope includes everything from gospel and murder ballads to primal rock and country blues. Some stinging guitar, subtle strings, and a great use of the horn section helps grab your attention from track to track. A very nice surprise. - May 2009

"Vintage Guitar Magazine"

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 talents , that's unlikely. - Feb 2009

"Time Out NY"

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. - November 2007

"Blog Critics Magazine"

"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." - May 2007

"Pace University Press"

"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
- April 2007

"Deli Magazine NYC"

"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. So much so that Darrin literally counts his blessings in the upbeat list poem love song "Lucky Man". A very musical effort." - Review by Walt Wells - September 2007

"Smother Magazine"

"Sort of a mix between Springsteen and Neil Young, they're a rock format that's highly engaging and completely exhilarating. Vocally it's throaty and raw but manages to convey a perfect sense of melody. Highly enjoyable and I would most certainly recommend it." - April 2007

"Americana UK"

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.
- June 2007


"Thrones of Gold" 2006
"The Lovely Ugly Truth" 2009






"Brooklyn singer-songwriter Darrin James touches on Robbie Robertson’s gruff soulfulness, Tom Waits’ vaudevillian menace and Paul Westerberg’s ramshackle charm…” Time Out New York

Much is known about the way music impacts the brain; very little is known about its effect on the heart. That instant, visceral sensation when a song connects is universal; while sincerity and authenticity are intangible qualities, they are always present in the positive listening experience. Darrin James has been a guitarist for 15 years and a songwriter for just under a decade, drawing on his love for blues, soul, country and other roots genres to create songs with a timeless quality. “As a songwriter, I have wanted to combine honest, dark lyrics with old school blues and a fusion of styles, to express the emotions and stories of tragic or flawed characters.” Darrin has succeeded mightily at this aim, his debut album, Thrones of Gold earned a wealth of kudos in the music press – The Deli Magazine had this to say, “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 title track placed in American Songwriter’s Lyric Writing Contest with the lyrics appearing in the Nov/Dec 2006 issue. “Crazy World” was used in the segment of Emmy-nominated reality TV fave The Deadliest Catch in which the crew demonstrate advanced cases of “Bering Sea Dementia.”

The Lovely Ugly Truth is the follow up album, and it's filled with parables that illustrate moral dilemmas and regret, outlaw stories, murder ballads and even a contemporary protest song that confronts the immigration debate. “I have always loved the saddest songs the best, so that is what I write most often,” explained James, who produced the album and assembled an ensemble of New York’s finest players, including staff from Antibalas, TV on the Radio, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Beirut and Arcade Fire. The tracks were recorded between 2007 and 2009 in numerous studios in New York by Matt Gill, who has worked with bands like Fischerspooner, Aimee Mann, The Raveonettes and Aqualung.

The album contains no filler, but standout tracks include “Baby Don’t Bitch”, a swampy Tony Joe White-esque burner that tells an outlaw tale with a Bonnie and Clyde theme. Viola was utilized instead of the predictable fiddle, lending dark richness while complimenting blues guitars and soulful backing vocals. “Lovely Ugly Truth” attacks divorce, a classic breakup song that evokes The Band, brilliantly summing up the strife everyone experiences in bad relationships. James chose the name for the album after realizing that great songwriting always illustrates both lovely and ugly truths. Scorching bluesy guitar, percussive piano and a mid-song rave up reflect the incendiary nature of every break up.

“Green Card Rag” rejuvenates a time-honored tradition, the protest song. A powerful tool for change, the songs of music greats like Woody Guthrie have spread messages to the populace. James addresses the injustices of immigration policy through the story of a struggling migrant worker. With a finger-picked electric guitar and a New Orleans-style horn section, it steps far from the traditional folky presentation, bringing real spirit to the form.

“Easier” is a regret-soaked acoustic song that powerfully evokes exhaustion, sadness and helplessness. Written to express man’s struggle with the world, it will resonate with anyone who has suffered in the current economy.

Darrin James was raised in suburban Detroit with an accommodating older brother who took him to concerts. Before graduating high school he’d already taken in many of his favorite blues and rock artists such as B.B. King, James Brown, Albert Collins, Bob Dylan and Pink Floyd. At a summer job at a forklift company he made the acquaintance of an older gentleman who brought cassettes of blues and jazz musicians like Albert King, Johnny Hodges, Richard “Groove” Holmes and Eddie Harris to the shop. Taking up guitar at 13, James’ main focus was playing blues, which gave way to jazz, folk and world music. He began playing shows as a teenager, playing lead guitar for many local acts in Michigan. After moving to Ann Arbor in 1996 he met some of his future band mates and collaborators, including Jordan Shapiro, Stuart Bogie, Jeremy Bronson and Matt Gill, who helped bring The Lovely Ugly Truth to life. Relocating to New York City in 2000, Darrin began to focus on singing and songwriting and wrote his first tunes. His Chinatown home was very near Ground Zero on 9/11, and his frustration during the Bush years fueled his writing. In 2002 he formed the Darrin James Band to perform his growing repertoire of original songs.


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