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James Christian - Craving

James Christian
by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 11 June 2018, 1:59 PM

HOUSE OF LORDS singer James Christian built for himself during the years a reputation as a fine songwriter and producer in his own right. His first solo album "Rude Awakening" was originally released in 1994 and is, to this day, regarded as a musical delight for any lover of first class AOR. After the return of HOUSE OF LORDS in the early 2000’s, Christian released another classy melodic rock album “Meet The Man” in 2004 which featured the songwriting of several AOR luminaries such as Stan Bush, Judithe Randall and his then bandmates Chuck Wright and Lanny Cordola. Nine years later, Christian stepped back on the scene with a brand new solo release “Lay It All On Me”, which he recorded and produced in his own studios in Florida during the second part of 2012 and early 2013.  “Craving” is James Christian’s brand new release and is his fourth solo album, containing eleven tracks.

“Heaven is a Place in Hell” leads off the album. It registers as Hard Rock for me, with easy listening vocals and big harmonies in the chorus. One thing to note is that the guitars don’t overtake the sound; piano is just as noteworthy. “Wild Boys” opens with a keyboard melody and lead guitar notes. The chord progressions are on point and I get a bit of a DANGER DANGER vibe here. It also brings good layering into the mix which gives it a richer, more full sound. For the title track, James reaches for an acoustical sound and some vocals high with emotions. A strongly composed song can really connect the message with the listener and that’s what he has done here. “Jesus Wept” is a mid-tempo rocker with strong melodies, and a very memorable chorus. It is so catchy and charming that it is something you would have to be half-dead not to want to sing along with.

“World of Possibility” has a melancholy sound, swinging with the rhythm of an island breeze. The vocals here are very expressive, lamenting the declaration that the love he has cannot be outdone. “Possibilities” is such an endless word, and his message is timeless. “Sidewinder” brings some harder Rock back into the fold. Driven mostly by the sleazy and dirty guitar tones, the rhythm beckons you to join in. “I Won’t Cry” is a bit of a sad tale, as you might imagine from the title. James really reaches in deep in the vocal delivery here, selling you hook, line, and sinker on what he is feeling as he belts on the chorus. “If There’s a God” had a dreamy sound, from prolonged vocal notes and a unison of acoustic and clean electric guitars, building harmonies along the way. It’s a simple but very effective melody here.

“Black wasn’t Black” is another Hard Rockin’ song that is heavy with guitars but equally strong with vocals. It might be the heaviest song on the album. Still, James never sacrifices melody in favor of aggressiveness, though a smoking guitar solo is totally appropriate here. “Amen” is a short three-minute, appropriately titled closing song. It’s just vocals and soft instrumentation. Not being familiar with any of his previous solo albums gave me the chance to just enjoy the music without prior expectation. It’s an immensely personal work, reflecting a variety of emotions in some harder moments as well as some tender ones. One thing is for sure: James puts his very soul into every composition here, which is really the point of music in the first place, isn’t it?

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 7
Memorability: 8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. Heaven is a Place in Hell
2. Wild Boys
3. Craving
4. Jesus Wept
5. World of Possibility
6. Widewinder
7. I Won’t Cry
8. If There’s a God
9. Love is the Answer
10. Black wasn’t Black
11. Amen
James Christian
Record Label: Frontiers Records


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