Many artists have interesting and sometimes heart-wrenching stories from the road leading to their record deal. James Clay's makes most other's look like a walk in the park. At age ten, Clay's mother took James and his siblings away from their father, at which point they joined a religious cult. And by the age of fourteen, he was providing fully for his mother and siblings. It was during this time that he began to play guitar and write songs. And, to make a long story short, eight years, a wife and two kids later, Mr. Clay has a record deal with InPop. And what he has to offer is simply incredible.
It is hard to describe Clay's self-titled debut. He takes just about everything you can do with acoustic rock and tries all of it over the course of eleven tracks. You can hear a lot of Dave Matthews in the music. Vocally, James Clay is about as diverse as they come. His voice is somewhat "grunge rock," but very passionate, and sometimes even resembling that of Mark Stuart of Audio Adrenaline.
The lyrics speak of life experiences, something Clay has a lot of. "Franklin Park," a song he wrote at the age of fifteen while living in a trailer park, is about sharing God's love to people that seem not to care at all. "Wicked Woman," probably the most rambunctious track on the debut, has Clay screaming "But the wise man stays away from the wicked woman" repeatedly. Other tracks simply talk about relying on God ("On your Knees," "Send Salvation, etc…), including the classic tribute to The Call's "I Still Believe."
If ever you need an example of hard work translating into great music, look no further than James Clay. His music is something new and almost completely unique from anything you've heard before. That's hard to do. But he's done it, and he's done it well.- Review date: 06/08/04, written by Josh Taylor
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