Saturday, 21 January 2017

Artist Choice Part One - Samantha James

In 2009 one of my discoveries was Samantha James. You can get the basic bio here. On the surface one of the stable of EDM artists that OM Records offer to the world, there is a certain something about the mix of her voice, the production, and the slightly hippy trippy lyrics that adds up to more than the sum of it's parts. So far her two albums Rise in 2007 & Subconscious from 2010 are at the top of my "played" count on the iPod. How come a fairly "traditional" fan took to something that seems a bit remote from my usual listening fare?

I think it is that "certain something" and the personal reaction to music I mentioned in "How Did I Miss This" previously. The arrangements often have an acoustic or slightly more organic element to them than run of  the mill Electronic Dance Music. There was an acoustic E.P. accompanying the Rise album where the songs stood up as well stripped back as they did with full "band". The lyrics on closer inspection are far deeper than they seem at first glance. The Subconscious album came out of the passing of her father from cancer, but it comes across as a very positive set of songs. Rise took a two years to complete and a couple of the songs have the feel of being worked over once too often, the acoustic version of 'Rain' is far superior to the album cut for instance. It does however contain two of her best songs, 'Rise' and 'Send It Out To The Universe'. So strong songwriting with thoughtful arrangements,  and a judicious use of collaborators, Brazilian singer/guitarist Celso Fonseca, and the Canadian J.B.Eckl who has collaborated with Carlos Santana in the past. Neither chosen for their big name pulling power but each adds to the songs they appear on. There are the inevitable remixes, Kaskade, & Eric Kupper, as well as others I have never heard of. The thoughtfulness in the process again comes through.

And after a single, 'Wings of Faith' in 2011 that was it, A couple of guest appearances on obscure albums crept out and her social media posts dwindled. I thought we may be left with two great albums as her legacy, but just recently the pace has picked up. A collaboration with Myon looks like bearing fruit in 2017 so this may be the time to investigate Samantha James.

Listening to her sent me off to other Downtempo and Nu-Jazz related artists like Late Night Alumni, Kyoto Jazz Massive and the Saint Germain Des Pres Cafe compilations. Try the playlist below as a starter and let me know what you think.

From Rise
I Found You
Enchanted Life
Send It Out To The Universe

From Rise Acoustic Sessions

Together As One (with Charles Webster)

From Subsconcious

Waves of Change

Buy her music on Bandcamp
Twitter @samanthajames13
Online at Om Records There's another playlist and videos here

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