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Samuel James

Songs Famed for Sorrow and Joy

(Northern Blues; US: 1 Apr 2008; UK: Available as import)

Samuel James tries to relive the best of blues and ragtime with this somewhat strong Delta-tinged album. The effort begins with “The ‘Here Come Nina’ Country-Ragtime Surprise”, a toe-tapping folk-blues tune that lays the groundwork for the rest of the record. But, at times, the album sounds somewhat forced, with numbers like “Sunrise Blues” being good but not great. In fact, a performer like Colin Linden seems to pull off similar material a bit better. The first hint that this might end up being an enjoyable listen is the slide-guitar work found on “Big Black Ben”, which brings to mind an acoustic George Thorogood. The same rings true for the intricate, Page-ish “Wooooooo Rosa”. However, the record often seems to find itself in the same rut, with James rarely mixing things up during “Sugar Smallhouse and the Legend of the Wandering Siren Cactus”. (Don’t ask me, I don’t know what the hell it means either.) While highlights are few and fleeting, “Love & Mumbly-Peg” is one of the sonic beacons here.

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Originally from Cape Breton, MacNeil is currently writing for the Toronto Sun as well as other publications, including All Music Guide, Billboard.com, NME.com, Country Standard Time, Skope Magazine, Chart Magazine, Glide, Ft. Myers Magazine and Celtic Heritage. A graduate of the University of King's College, MacNeil currently resides in Toronto. He has interviewed hundreds of acts ranging from Metallica and AC/DC to Daniel Lanois and Smokey Robinson. MacNeil (modestly referred to as King J to friends), a diehard Philadelphia Flyers fan, has seen the Rolling Stones in a club setting, thereby knowing he will rest in peace at some point down the road. Oh, and he writes for PopMatters.com.


Tagged as: samuel james
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Samuel James - Here Comes Nina (Live)
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2 Mar 2010
Like the pre-war bluesmen he admires, James has the "songster's" ability to pull you in with down-home, down-to-earth tales that speak volumes.
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