Country troubadour doesn't quite get it right
LA-based Susan James is a country-folkie troubadour whose songs involve the familiar jangly guitars, peppy rhythm section and bouncy lyrics. Her voice is the crucial element, though, and it’s unexpectedly watery for someone billed as a singer-songwriter-guitarist triple threat. Highways Ghosts Hearts & Home‘s opening track, “Airstream Girl,” is toe-tappingly likeable enough, but the thinness of James’s voice prevents it from being anything more than that. The same could be said of many of these tunes. James often teeters alarmingly on the edge of sharpness or flatness, although some songs make use of her limited register more effectively than others. “Out in the Woods” is an example of a track that succeeds in spite of the singer, rather than because of her, and slower tune “On Your Side” is quite pretty. Overall, though, the vocals are the weakest link on this record, which is precisely what shouldn’t be the case on an album like this.