Beth // James

REVIEW: Beth // James “Get Together”


Beth // James – Get Together

This Austin indie-Americana couple performs as Beth // James. They are Mikaela Beth (piano, synth, Wurlitzer, Rhodes) & Jordan James Burchill (guitars, synth).

Their 10-cut debut Get Together (Drops June 3–Independent) is filled with tunes that are light-hearted & good-natured. With a twang, vintage indie-pop melodies & light musical fare. They sing about the canine of their dreams, an ill-fated group tattoo & saved voicemails of a loved one. Some are quite good.

There are no heavily poetic Leonard Cohen emotional structures or creative journeys ala Joni Mitchell.

The old Instamatic camera that produced washed-out faded color 60s pictures is the duo’s humor but aligns with the music they express. A few pictures of James show him somewhat like a younger brother of counterculture activist & former Fugs member Ed Sanders. Same hair, mustache – just not as radical.

Both are highly accomplished musicians who rely more on dreamy songs than electrifying solos. The more upbeat “Shake It Out,” is a good pop tune with an Abba-feel. It’s elementary lyrically in a commercial mainstream sense. Beth comes across as sweet-voiced in tonality. “Dog We Don’t Have,” comes with a nice horn touch (Mike St. Clair) but vocally – could be more distinctive.

“Boy Genius,” & “Happy Birthday,” — well, well, well — these stayed in the oven a little longer. Beth shines in a very-Fleetwood Mac way. Impressive. James’ voice is fine too.

Duos like Richard & Mimi Farina, Mimi Farina & Tom Jans, Nino Tempo & April Stevens, and Lyme & Cybelle (Lyme was Warren Zevon) – were duos with finesse & edge. I’m not saying Beth // James doesn’t have this – some songs do, others don’t. The 35-minute CD was produced by James Petrelli (synth) with Nick Clark & Mike Luzecky (bass) & Matt Young (drums).

“Sean’s Intro,” is a brief “Manhattan Spiritual,” type-brief interlude. It’s a shame since it sounded like it would go somewhere. The song that followed didn’t. But I believe this duo saved the best for last.

The final 3 tracks are no less than excellent. Beth sings “The Sun,” poignantly & beautifully. The simple, delicate “Voicemails,” is as deep as they’ve gone lyrically & it’s lovely. James’ best vocal comes on “Lonely Boy, Lonely Girl,” which is superb. Beth is absolutely marvelous. These alone would recommend the CD.

Beth // James

My biggest criticism is CD art. Not much thought here. Too many shots look like they’re from a family album. Images should make the CD marketable. The portrait on the duo’s press release (above) is better than them riding away, backs turned — on vintage bikes.

Photo courtesy of their website. CD @

Enjoy our earlier premiere here: Song Premiere: Beth // James “Voicemails”

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