Album Of The Week / James Stevenson extends his rock music legacy
9 July 2021
I’m blessed to have met James over the years with past bands Chelsea, Gene Loves Jezebel and The Alarm. He is a quality guitarist and has a huge interest in vintage guitars.
James Stevenson – The Other Side Of The World (Pink Gun Records)
Release Date: 9 July 2021
Words: Sara Harding
When this new solo album landed in my emails last week, I was intrigued to download it and get listening, and I’m so pleased I did as this is a banger set of songs. It’s great to listen to an album that has come out of lockdown and rocks – a definite testimony to James’ rock music legacy. Stevenson is known for his guitar DNA, but this album has him doing it all. This dude is seriously talented.
Killer riffs and choruses
The Other Side Of The World kicks off with Baby Come On, an intro song with a killer riff and choruses that have you singing along immediately. It’s an upbeat slice of rock with jazz vibes and incredible production. The guitar solos are searing, and this dude’s chops are brilliant.
Gotta Find That Feeling is up next and is packed with funk-rock vibes with some excellent banter style lyrics. It is all about forgetting the world’s problems and is another high energy song with yet another anthemic chorus juxtaposed with killer keyboards. Then in comes more of Stevenson’s guitar licks that give you a perfect vibe.
Stevenson is a great lyricist, that is for sure, and the song When You’re Feeling Sad And Lonely has an incredible psychedelic rock undertone. I bloody love this song – it’s a no-nonsense classic with James’ guitar singing along seamlessly.
We all love an oxymoron, and Ugly Beautiful is another wonderfully crafted tune. This has it all – riffs, lyrics and melody. Reminding me of The Cult – I bet this is a song Astbury et all would have loved to have written and added into their arsenal of anthems. Are you bad, or are you good? That is Stevenson’s question. Well, this track is good, very good.
I’m Getting Over You Now is up next. The tempo is slowed down, and we are crash bang into another slice of guitar greatness. As a listener, the lyrics are heartfelt and obviously mean a lot to James. After all, we all love a great ‘love rock’ song. It is ablaze with some retro keyboards that give this track a multi-layered tone and has a Cali style guitar solo that will literally give you goosebumps.
New York 10023 is super atmospheric with a funk bass undertone followed by a searing guitar solo that slaps you in the face – reminiscent of the Isley Brothers at their best. This instrumental is sublime. Sometimes you just don’t need words as it’s all about the atmosphere this song creates.
In the Nighttime is a vibe-filled tune that makes me want to jump in my jeep and drive around a city at night with this song on super loud, looking at everyone piling out of clubs and pubs simply having a great time.
Another touch of psychedelia
I love the track Take A Little Love. It is another classy, retro filled song with another touch of psychedelia. When the Aquarius Club (run by Tank’s Cliff Evans) re-opens next month in Hastings, I’m sure the DJ will spin this for us to groove to, and the chorus will surely raise our spirits. This genre of music is so on-trend at the minute – it’s the ’60s meets 2021.
What impresses me with this album is there is not one filler track. Each song, despite being very James Stevenson, is unique and catchy. Point to Your Head is another psychedelic nod to the past.
The Other Side Of The World is the title track and penultimate song. The song is about James’ brother David’s fight against the terminal illness Picks Disease. “Not many people have heard of the disease – it’s a nasty one,” James told MetalTalk. “The first lockdown was hard for us all, but losing my brother in the middle of it truly broke my heart.
“The other side of the world is a reference to him living in Australia and also, because it’s a neurological brain disorder, that he was on the other side of the world mentally.” A lovely acoustic guitar introduces us to the anthem ahead. This slow tempo tune is stripped down and from the heart, building to the most epic guitar solo thus far.
Just Like I Do is a simply beautifully crafted song. The production is immense, and you can hear all the layers in this epic final track. It’s so clever in its finesse and, again, very catchy with a stunning ‘Doorsy’ keyboard solo.
I’m off to pour a G and T and listen to the whole album again. Join me and do the same.