Canadian hard rockers Old James are a bit of a find. Soulful, yet with enough heft in the guitar department to appeal to your average Sentinel Daily reader, they really should appeal to just about everyone who reads this magazine.
Like an exciting mix of Glenn Hughes, Kings X’s Doug Pinnick and Lenny Kravitz, bassist/vocalist Brian Stephenson is at the hub of everything that’s good about this band. The man really does have a wonderful set of pipes, deployed over the entire set here with lashings of style and considerable technique. Old James cook up a tidy noise for a three piece, but the tight funkiness of that sound is all down to Stephenson. He’s a star.
Master Imploder and Bass-ik Instinct are probably your correspondent’s favourite tracks; the former is an uptempo rocker that reeks of Deep Purple thanks to some superior lead playing from Sir Andy ‘T-Cat’ Thompson and a hammering drum performance from Chris Stephenson, Brian’s younger brother. If siblings really do have a telepathic understanding, it’s evidenced here by the tightness of the brothers playing. The latter is a classy hard rock workout that’ll really get your juices flowing.
The loose funk of Eugene is another highlight, opening with some Les Claypool-style bass noodling before exploding into a supreme radio-friendly slab of catchy hard rock full of elastic riffs and another fabulous vocal masterclass from Stephenson major.
Old James do evoke a style of music that was briefly popular at the tail end of the eighties – funk metal – but do so without the more excessive traits that some of the more indulgent acts from that movement swamped the scene with. Classy in style and faultless in execution, if you love hard rock with a feel for the funk and no fear of an alluring melody, this might well be for you.
Old James will release Speaks Volumes on August 25th.