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Jeremy James on cover of "Landlocked" and link to Jeremy's website. StoneWall Society GLBT Music Artists 
Jeremy James Wing
CD Review
Jeremy James "Landlocked" cover art and link Jeremy James  "Landlocked" 
CD Review 
By Jed Ryan   

      Originally from Arkansas, prolific singer-songwriter Jeremy James has a history as interesting as his music itself: he hails from the same county as legendary bad boy Johnny Cash, and he's a direct genetic descendant of a legendary bad boy of another variety, Jesse James.  Now happily living in Upstate New York, James' south-of-the-Mason-Dixon-line roots have nevertheless proven to have had a long-lasting influence on his music-- as he acknowledges in "Home": "You can take the boy out of the 

country, but you cannot take my country out of me".  "Home" is the opener for "Landlocked", the fourth album from this young, self-described modern alt/folk artist.  It's a catchy (to the point where you'll likely be singing along-- or at least clapping along-- after a few listenings...) intro to the album in which Jeremy recalls some of the more memorable images from his southern, Red State upbringing (the smell of honeysuckle, a picture of Jesus on the wall, a rusty old pickup truck on concrete blocks in the yard, etc.).  The song also features some inspired lyrics like, "When look back on my Red State line, I can't help but to romanticize it; watching two worlds collide, and  I'm in a Blue State of mind!".  The angelic guest female vocals, courtesy of Casey J. Chapman, add an interesting touch.  Throughout "Landlocked",  Mr. James sounds youthful but knowing, he conveys pain without whining, and his music proves to be incredibly earnest-- without "overdoing" it, always a danger with folk music.  Despite flawless production, James keeps it pure, which is one of the reasons why "Landlocked" stands out as a highlight album by an out 'n' proud artist in 2007.  We may live in an age where there's an explosion of interest in queer culture in the media, including LOGO, but none of our advances will ever replace our own real-life stories and life experiences.  We don't question that James' lyrics and feelings came right from his heart and soul.  Despite the earnestness and homegrown feel, the music on "Landlocked" is rich in symbolism and meaning: acceptance of yourself and others, tolerance, justice ("Best Defense"), change ("All the Things We Knew"), and religion ("Home") are among the themes he explores.  It's amazing what Mr. James can do with just his vocals and a guitar (like on the final track, "Measure Up") --or just his vocals and a mandolin, for that matter.  On "Waiting", he plays that instrument so energetically that the listener worries that he may break the strings (I'm "waiting" to hear that one live!).  Jeremy recruits his friend and fellow indie musician Namoli Brennan for some harmonica for "All the Things We Know", a soothing, somewhat haunting, almost ethereal piece featuring some provocative lyrics.  This track, along with "Sober Light of ay" later on in the album, lets Jeremy give the audience the full range of his vocal ability.  James displays a more mature side of his persona with "Old Man Winter", a track which features James' voice taking on a gravelly tone, and lyrics that are especially hard-hitting, even more so when you realize that they are likely biographical.  And, anyone who has ever experienced an Upstate New York winter will know how the harshness of the season can be a fitting allusion to how harsh relationships and life in general can be.  "Thruway", a song about, yes, the New York Thruway ("I've been driving all night long, I've been driving my life away; Rain is pouring on the windshield, tonight on the New York Thruway..."), is a hybrid of road song and campfire ditty, featuring more of James' mandolin skill.  Although the lyrics reveal it's a song about an anticipated trip to meet up with a romantic interest, any musician who spends a great deal of time on the road (like James himself) will relate immediately.   "Sober Light of Day" is yet another provocative track, which features some exquisite piano work by Namoli Brennan.  "Landlocked" closes with the somber "Measure Up".  It's possibly his most personal song, if the listener can be convinced (This listener wasn't!) that Jeremy James' self-esteem would ever be challenged by a romantic rival.  Nevertheless, the closer packs an emotional wallop. 

      What amazing about "Landlocked" is how much energy, heart, soul, and meaning that Jeremy James packs into the nine songs on the album.  If Mr. James  is able to get so much inspiration from places he has been to, and is able to bring it back to the masses through his music, then let's hope he keeps right on travelin'!

Visit Jeremy James' Website.

Jed Ryan
PM Entertainment Magazine  

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