|courtesy Sony Music Nashville|
The fact that he was an accomplished electric guitarist made an even bigger impression on me during the 2010 competition shows.
Unfortunately, he lost out to Crystal Bowersox and Lee DeWyze in the top 3.
After touring with Sugarland in ‘11, James released his solid, self-titled debut album via 19/BNA/Sony Music Nashville last year. The Texas native co-produced it with Chris Lindsey and had a hand in writing most of the tracks.
The release debuted at #2 on the Billboard Country Albums chart and two singles have made good headway on the Country charts (“Let’s Don’t Call it a Night,” #21; “Crying on a Suitcase, #16 airplay).
This summer, he will open for Taylor Swift on her “Red” tour (including Aug. 19-20, 23-24 at LA’s Staples Center).
Tuesday night, James and his four-piece band had fans whooping and hollering (especially
the ladies, who were obviously enamored by the hunky singer) throughout a fine 75-minute concert at the Brandin’ Iron Saloon & Dance Hall.
“It looks like a Friday night in here,” said the singer/guitarist, surveying the packed San Bernardino nightclub. Then they launched the 13-song set with “The Good Life” - among half a dozen tracks from the album to receive a live airing.
The musicians, including a keyboardist and a guitarist/pedal steel player, were all smiles onstage and definitely having a good time. James did some soulful vocals and tasty guitar on “She’s Money” and just plain sizzled on the bluesy “Drive,” propelled by his slide Resonator guitar work.
“We debuted this nearby at Camp Pendleton,” noted James, before the swoon-worthy, steel guitar-infused ballad “Love the Way You Miss Me.” Both “Crying on a Suitcase” and “Let’s Don’t Call it a Night” came across strongly here.
He also unveiled a handful of promising new tunes that continued to give a stylistic tip of the hat to formative early influences like Stevie Ray Vaughn and Doyle Bramhall II. Many times, the selections would feature extended outros.
For the fantastic closer, James and band tore into an epic rocking version of Tony Joe White’s 1969 hit “Polk Salad Annie.”