IZZY JAMES: A Call To Conscience (Label: c. 2007 Izzy James)

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IZZY JAMES: A Call To Conscience

I don’t know anything about Izzy James save that he wrote, produced and arranged this whole album. My first instincts were that Mr. James is a gospel artist – both the album’s title and opening tracks indicated that here was something more than songs of love, lust, passion cheating and general good times. The opener, ‘It’s All Right’ is a big, brash optimistic tune declaring that we should all look on the brighter side of life (though without the irony or humour of the Pythons). Track two – ‘Change The World’ is equally big and brassy – with horn charts that will recall the Tower of Power and lyrics that draw inspiration from gospel music. ‘This Way’, the third cut, is a dramatic ballad where, again, the lyrics urge us to seek solutions to the world’s ills. Then things change. ‘Fallin’ Sky’ is a tale of love cheats and this lyrical switch sets the tone for the rest of the LP, with the songs’ messages alternating between romance and what, for want of a better description, we might call socio-religious themes. Vocally Izzy James is in fine form throughout. His voice is strong – though there’s a gruff vulnerability in there that reminds me in places of Michael MacDonald – and more precisely a one-time MacDonald collaborator, Darwin Hobbs. Production values throughout are surprisingly expansive given that this is essentially one of those self-produced indie sets and overall it’s a thoroughly decent modern soul set. It just lacks one really big tune to ignite proceedings. My vote for best cut would go to ‘Stand Up’. This one’s a lazy, laid back jazz-soul groove with some outstanding sax from Angelo Dirbraccio, but my guess is that’s its too sophisticated for the average modern soulster. They would probably prefer the foot tapping potential in that opener,’ It’s All Right’. If you want to investigate more, the album’s currently available through www.soulchoonz.com
(BB) 4 out of 5