Justin James
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Justin James

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I didn’t know of singer/songwriter, Justin James, until a visitor to the Pop Talk forum posted a note suggesting I listen to the album, Sun Drenched. The title intrigued me because we battled some pretty chilly temperatures in Columbus, Ohio this past winter. It only made sense to bring some sunshine to my music collection. Let’s call that instant sunshine.

I had a chance to talk to Justin via email. He had a story and, as you all know by now, I love stories.

Justin James was born in Canada. At 18, he found a haven of sunshine, beaches, friends, and fun in the Caribbean. He also met someone who would change his life forever – a shark – a tiger shark to be exact.

Justin was surfing off the coast of Venezuela when he was attacked. His left foot was mangled and detached. The nearest town was three hours away and Justin did his best to endure the trip in the back of a truck. He was losing blood fast and eventually lost consciousness. Sunshine, beaches and good times were suddenly replaced by physicians, blood transfusions, a delicate surgery, stitches, and time.

Lots and lots of time – most of it spent bedridden broken up by sessions of intense physical therapy. It was a hard time, a frustrating time, and a time of change. Justin refers to one particular event as a blessing in disguise.

One day, his grandmother gave him a guitar to help pass the long tedious immobile hours and he soon found that he had a gift. No, let me rephrase that, Justin James found his art. He could play, he could write songs and he could sing.

Wow! Let’s talk about change. Since we are going with a summer time theme in this piece, can I say this is a true example of someone taking the lemons life threw at them and making lemonade – like the best lemonade evah!!!

I was interested to know why Justin’s grandmother had given him a musical instrument during his recovery time. I mean, when I have friends who are recovering from an illness or injury, I usually give them the latest best sellers, magazines or puzzle books. It was almost as if Justin’s grandmother knew that a talent lay dormant, that it just needed a little push.

“She just wanted to give me something that would pass the time,” Justin said. “She knew I loved music.”

That love of music led to melodies and lyrics that later turned into an album. To make the story a little shorter, I will tell you that Justin was signed by 10 Spot Records, an independent label. I asked him what life was like with an Indie label as we seem to be seeing more and more great artists emerge this way.

“Well . . . I’m just finding out because I was signed just a few months ago. It’s nice to call up the president of the label and discuss my issues. It’s also nice to know that you’re not gonna be lost in the shuffle and that their time and energy is focused on your career,” he said.

Justin also gave me some background information. “10 Spot Records is part of the Universal Music Family which allows them to use Universal for distribution/marketing and other key areas. That alone separates them from 99% of most Indies.”

The shark attack changed the direction of Justin’s life and the story does have a happy ending, or should I say new beginning? However, there are some lingering reminders.

“I have a limp,” Justin said. “And my foot has no feeling cause my nerves were so severely damaged.” Justin paused at this point in his email and inserted one of those smiley faces you make with keystrokes. The next line said, “But, I can still dance!”

I Got Sun Drenched!

I love hearing from readers. I like to read your email and forum posts about your likes and dislikes, as well as your opinions and reviews on pop music. It was a simple note in the forum telling me about a great album called Sun Drenched that led to this article. I downloaded the album from Napster and it was like a mini beach party in my writing studio. It had all of my favorite elements! Songs with well written meaningful lyrics, catchy melodies I could hum along with and even a couple of tunes that made me want to dance. My cat, Gus, was an unwilling partner – his loss, so I danced alone. It also had a handsome artist with a great voice! The first song I listened to was “California” which MTV used in its reality show, Laguna Beach. I asked Justin what inspired him to write the song. This is how he answered.

“My life! I’ve been down here in Cali chasing my dream and although there have been some down times and tough times, like every starving artist has, it can never get that bad cause I live on the beach in sunny California!”

I noticed right away that Justin’s album did not seem overproduced. I asked Justin how much input he had into the final version of Sun Drenched.

“A lot,” he said. “I wrote or co-wrote every song. I was involved in the recording process as well. I went to school for recording engineering so I was able to utilize my knowledge. Backroom Studio recruited some of LA’s top studio musicians to play on my record and I was blessed to have Tim Feehan produce it.”

I listened to Sun Drenched several times and kept hearing subtle vocal resemblances to Dave Matthews. I asked Justin if anyone had commented on the similarity before.

“Yes,” he said. “But I get more references about J. Johnson, John Mayer and Jason Mraz. All in all, I’m just myself, Justin James.”

And being himself, being Justin James, is what makes this album one of my new favorites. I’m not trying to be simplistic, just truthful, when I say I find Sun Drenched to be a combination of musical and lyrical creativity, vocal art and just plain fun! It makes me happy every time I listen to it. Making people happy with his music is exactly what Justin wants to do.

“Music to me has always been about recording songs that make your toes tap,” he said. “I want my music to make you smile, I want my songs to make you want to just hang out.”

If you want to “hang out” with Justin James and Sons of Beaches, check out the MySpace link below for tour dates. You can also hear some cuts off of Sun Drenched, buy your own copy and see what other fans have to say about this new "very talented" artist.

Have a great week!
Chel
- Bella Magazine


While Canada (where he was born) and Venezuela (where he had a lifechanging encounter with a tiger shark) each play an important role in the origins and evolution of this sunny, high spirited and immensely likeable singer songwriter, it's clear from the cheery opening strains of "California" that he's a Southern Cal boy all the way. The brightness of that happy slacker track has added illumination to sandy TV shows (Laguna Beach, Maui Fever) and East Coast flavored programs (What About Brian) alike, but is just the beginning of the journey. "Right Here Right Now" keys the listener in to the reality that the raspy voiced singer is a heartfelt romantic along the lines of British counterpart James Morrison, while "Love Me More" keeps that vibe going with a distinctive popblues influence (harmonica and B3) included. The energetic, forward thinking acoustic romp "We Can Do Anything" is very much in the John Mayer camp but there are touches of the classic 70s SoCal sound as well, including the influence of The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac and The Doobie Brothers. The odd metered percussion, gentle flute, unique vocal approach and retro lyrical theme of "Summertime" even channels Joni Mitchell ever so slightly. Rhythmically, James' vibes range from the upbeat and percussive jamming of "Dance Alone" to the wistful and reflective "Seven Days." While his influences are clear and the feeling generally happy, there are enough original edges to make him stand out as his own artist and a singersongwriter to reckon with.
- Jonathan Widran, All Music Guide

- Jonathan Widran


Google "Justin James Sun Drenched " - Google


Justin James - ‘Sun Drenched’
Well, the title of this album says it all, really. Justin James’ Sun Drenched is a sunny collection of feel-good songs about summer, the West Coast,
and girls. The opener “California” sets the mood of the album perfectly. “I live in California, wasting away on a sunny day, I live down in California,
I don’t mind just feeling fine.” The optimistic and carefree vibe that this song expresses is infectious, painting the picture of a tantalizing alterna-
tive to the 9 to 5 workweek grind. James sings about being “out of work” and “down to my last dime” with a knowing gleam in his eye, and while
this might not be the most realistic way of looking at the world, it still makes us yearn for it. We’ve heard this sort of stuff before, but the writing is solid and it does succeed in making you feel good. If this album puts a little extra
zip in your step on a summer day, then James has done his job.
-Revolt Magazine
Vol 22 Issue 7
- Revolt Magazine


Discography

California & Right Here Right Now
Singles of the Album -Sun Drenched-
Justin is recieving air play in Southern California*
Justin has his songs played in most malls, gyms, ballparks, large store chains, sporting events, ect...

Photos

Bio

Canadian born Singer/Songwriter Justin James began his career at 7 years old playing cello and a year later he was singing in Canada’s most prestigious traveling choir, the British Columbia Boys Choir. Justin traveled extensively throughout North America and Europe during his formative years.

At 18, Justin James (tired of the cold Canadian winters) found everything he had ever wanted: sunshine, waves, good friends and great times in the Caribbean. He earned just enough money to get by and enjoyed every minute of it. One day, while surfing off the coast of Venezuela, Justin had a run in with a tiger shark. The attack left his foot mangled and detached, a near fatal encounter. Having to endure over a three-hour ride in the back of a truck to the nearest town, Justin lost consciousness and more than half his body’s blood volume. The delicate surgery to reattach his foot took multiple doctors, multiple blood transfusions and over 250 stitches in less than perfect conditions.

During his lengthy recovery and intense physical therapy his grandmother gave him a guitar to pass the time, while bedridden for just under a year. Soon Justin realized he had an uncanny knack for the guitar and song writing that he would never have discovered if it weren’t for his accident. A transformation took place during his recovery: an extremely talented Singer/Songwriter emerged. It was all a blessing in disguise.

Since then Justin has been writing and performing music and has a reputation for a spirited show. He has opened for Switchfoot, Shawn Colvin, Dirty Vegas, Edwin McKane and Alannah Myles to name a few. The Band consists of Ben Greet (guitar) Murf (harmonica), Jeremy Miller (keyboards), Eric Strickler (drums), Peter August (saxophone) and Brendan McKluskey (bass.)

“Music to me has always been about recording songs that make your toes tap, that make you smile, songs that make you want to hang out with your friends on a sunny day at the beach.”

James’ new album Sun Drenched embodies his beliefs and the spirit of his influences: Motown and harmony bands like The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac and The Doobie Brothers. The album has already received considerable media attention with the first single, California, being used in an episode of MTV’s popular reality show Laguna Beach as well as MTV's The Hills & Maui Fever. Justin James album, Sun Drenched, is release on 10 Spot/Universal Records.