Eden James – All the Good Blank Are Taken
With the first notes & vocals that spill from “Bad Girl,” award-winning Australian rocker Eden James’ 4th CD All the Good Blank Are Taken (Dandy Ram – Drops July 9) it’s evident James consciously or not channels a degree of Lou Reed. It continues obviously & surprisingly well into cut 2 “Black Book,” (definite similarity to “Sweet Jane,” guitar progression). However, there are artists who copy, imitate, & emulate Eden James seems not to do this. He sounds sincere, tight, studied. He sounds like Reed & writes with the same edge Lou did, but Eden James does it with finesse, style & a whole lot of his own ingenuity. As if he just wants to pick up the Velvet Underground torch & run with it…into the new Century.
The 8-cut CD co-produced by James & Tim Leitner (Billy Joel/Tina Turner) was recorded in NYC (of course, it was) with James & an all-star cast of sidemen with heavy-duty credentials: Larry Saltzman (Paul Simon’s guitarist), Sterling Campbell (David Bowie’s drummer) & Charles Giordano (Bruce Springsteen’s keyboard/accordionist).
Eden James was born in Australia but is NYC-based. With these elements, he has managed to wear his influences well. Project his own originality effectively. “Dangerous Game,” has a Bowie feel. At times, James sounds like he spills in drops of Willie Nile, & Billy Joel (during Eden James’ cool ode to “New York”) into each tune. This is what makes his songs memorable. Each is also strikingly arranged. “New York” doesn’t sound like something an Australian would write – but here it is.
”Something Called Love” is sung with another Reed-tilt but this lifts the guitar riff from his famous Australian countrymen Dragon (with the late Mark Hunter) from their “New Machine,” (1977). The way Eden produced this, however, I find it charming. Almost as if he did it respectfully since the wonderful Dragon, a wonderful group, who recorded for an American major label never caught on as big as they did Down Under.
I like Eden’s style. His voice & material is formidable for a late-era rock singer, but he writes exceptional songs. “Stranger,” is a good blues that struts along with a weaving torrent of guitars & heavy-handed drums that thud steadily with attitude. What I really find intriguing is the subject matter. “I gotta get over her honey, can I get over her with you?” Nice. “You know I’m older honey, but you’re getting older too…” very Dylanesque. This is one of the best songs I’ve heard this year. To cop a phrase & edit it — I have seen the future of creativity & originality in rock & it’s Eden James.
“The Villain,” takes a pinch of the late Willy DeVille with distinction. “Negative Space,” brushes the shallow stream of the late remarkable Frank Tovey vocals (“Liberty Tree”).
This is all enjoyable stuff, done well & look forward to more.
The 34-minute CD will be available @ Bandcamp. https://www.edenjames.com/