REVIEW: Seth James’ “Good Life” is Funky Flourishes


Seth James, a Texas guitarist born and bred, releases Good Life produced by Kevin McKendree and recorded at the Rock House in Franklin, TN on Cherry Bomb Records in August. “Brother” sets the stage for the record with a slow piano boogie woogie reminiscent of a party night in New Orleans complete with horn flourishes and enthusiastic backup signer call-outs. “You can’t count the stars in the sky…but you can count on me” James sings.

“That’s How You Do It” follows and gives a bouncy take the well-worn lyrical land of working man blues with a twist. James waits until here, the second track on the record, to let his guitar make an appearance, but when it does its tone is clean, precise, and simple in the best way – not too many notes, but the right notes. The title track, “Good Life,” maintains the boogie woogie, the funky, the Dr. John influence; it’s on prominent display in the organ and halting start-stop vocal delivery.

“Ain’t What You Eat But The Way How You Chew It” presents life lessons in poignant couplets accented by James guitar breaks. “There’s lots of things in living that can hurt a man, ain’t nothing can hurt him like a woman can” and “got to go through to see there ain’tnothing to it, it ain’t what you eat but the way how you chew it” put James’ philosophy of life on display – some things will hurt more than others, but what matters is how you get through.

“The Time I Love You The Most” tracks off from the funk infused path of the record into straight forward Texas blues rock; James lets his voice and guitar out to stretch their legs a bit more and the track is finer for it. Things slow down on “I’m Coming Home” as James digs into emotions all road weary travelers experience at some point, “I was lost but now I’m founded, I was high but now I’m grounded, and I’m coming home.”

“Get Outside” exalts the healing forces of the outdoors, while “Medicine Man” presents a tale of failure and confusion in a world where, “you can’t get something for nothing”. “Third Generation” offers the most piercing and insightful lyrics of the record. Although the horns are still here, the mood his decidedly darker. James sings, “First generation breaks their back, the second one makes the money, the third one throws it all away singing it’s everybody’s fault but mine”. He repeats “everybody’s fault but mine” multiple times, in an instance both embracing and jettisoning his third generation status. With “I Am the Storm,” James acknowledges his place as the cause of his trials and tribulations closing an otherwise feel good record on a somber tone.

His press releases announce that Seth James is Texas born and bred; the Good Life oozes with Louisiana funky mud, so I’m betting he’s from East Texas close to the border. For a good time give Seth James’ Good Life a listen.


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