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Celia EP - James Bower
Buy Celia EP


RELEASE INFO

LABEL: Common Market Records
RELEASE DATE: June 19, 2012
FORMATS: CD / Digital

Band Members

James Bowers
Alex Mercier
Frederik Errikkson
Adrienne Woods

BIOGRAPHY

Building on lush piano balladry from the 1990s & 2000s, James Bowers began crafting his music in his early childhood years. He was brought up in Naperville, Illinois, just outside Chicago where musical culture is broad and deep, with a history of traversing sonic quarters both familiar and undiscovered. Bowers started out, fittingly enough, on piano. In those days though, being all of ten years old, he wanted more—to master the guitar and play the music of his rock and punk heroes. Finally getting a guitar signified the beginning of his career.

His first album was written and recorded near his home in Chicago: a solo effort with Bowers’ soaring, yet intimate vocals and guitar, along with the appearance of the violin in scattered parts. His best friend at the time heard what James could do, and like many artists’ closest friends, could not let a great talent go unnoticed. He urged and encouraged Bowers to record the music so that others could appreciate it. The result was a gorgeous solo debut, which featured the first version of the popular song “Celia”, the title track of James Bowers' latest EP.

After the reception of steady recognition out on the west coast, Bowers left his hometown and headed that way to build his musical career, with Los Angeles as his destination. Hollywood: the perennial crown city of independent rock music for so many burgeoning artists who start out in other cities. His first gig was there, at the famous Hotel Café; it was an exciting and well-attended performance. It was during that time an important figure emerged for James’ career: Paul Broucek, president of New Line. Bowers was introduced to Broucek at a restaurant, and decisively kept in contact as his music grew and flourished on its own. In time, Broucek launched the artist development & recording company, Common Market, resulting in a new direction for the development of Bowers’ career. “It’s funny to think how ‘right-place-right-time’ is so true; and yet, for me it didn’t all happen immediately. I have had to work very hard since the beginning. Persistence pays off.”

“I’ve quit trying to be clever”, keeping things to their most basic elements has been an instrument in and of itself, with Bowers remaining solo in lieu of formulating a band, and the music itself. Of late, James is shoulder-to-the-wheel in Los Angeles, creating plaintive, folk-inspired songs that are alternately lush and intimately organic. The gems of James Bowers music spin concise, literate tales of quiet everyday melancholy, inspired by Amos Lee, Adele, and modern composers like Sigur Ros’ Jonsi. James says he would “like to write music that affects and inspires that many people”, with respect to those who move him to write, and with his trajectory he’s well on the way to doing just that.

Review

June 13th, 2012. By Josh Webb for http://whatculture.com

2011 is now (unofficially) known as ‘The Year Adele Dominated the Entire World with a Piano and Some Emotional Outpourings’. Have a look at the Brits and at the Grammys from earlier this year and it appears now is a good, maybe even the perfect time to be an inspiring singer/songwriter in the music biz. Who was winning?  Where’s your evidence? Well apart from just a straight list of Adele victories the Americans saw it fit for folkster Bon Iver, UK melancholy soul singer Corinne Bailey Ray and classic crooner Tony Bennett to all win golden gramophones whilst Ed Sheeran sweeped up two Brits and Emeli Sande was awarded the Critic’s Choice award. Enough said.

So, despite the current popularity in the genre, is there enough room for another piano/guitar backed artist? James Bowers seems to think so with the release of his new EP Celia, a five-track tableau which sees his first foray into the music market wilderness. Originally from just outside Chicago, Illinois, James made the move to the glossy west coast in attempt to crack a record deal; Hollywood came a-calling and the first set of songs he previewed for record companies included the original version of title track, Celia. Now he’s had time to work at a sound and the timing couldn’t have been better with the waves of talent pouring out in to the mainstream during his recording/writing period in 2011. Have any influences rubbed off their magic onto James? Well, let’s have a listen…

First up is the aforementioned title track Celia and no matter what state it was in prior to this re-working, the one thing I can say is it’s a truly lush EP opener. It’s just incredibly well thought out from the lyrical content to the building levels of the various backing instruments which (at this point in the EP) feel very fresh. A soothingly repetitive acoustic guitar section works in totally harmony with Bowers’ hushed vocals, occasionally elevated by a backing chorus reverb, before the introduction of sparse piano notes and mournful cello solos. Ok, some of the rhymes are a tad heavy-handed (the verse about the train about 2:15 in sounded like a GCSE creative writing entry for example) but the song as a whole is a sumptuous blend of traditional folk, classical arrangements and acoustic rock.

Building from this high is the EP highlight Night Time Coming Down and nearly as great 17, both featuring an air of familiarity to my ears. The latter’s verses have a lyrical melody somewhere between Robbie WilliamsShe’s The One and James Morrison’s Broken Strings which isn’t really a bad thing at all (and much catchier than the chorus) whilst the inclusion of some hand drum rhythms give a much needed injection of ethno-grit into proceedings proving Bowers’ vocal versatility. Night Time Coming Down really takes the piano to the fore-front and I couldn’t help being reminded of Vanessa Carlton’s infamous piano run in A Thousand Miles – it’s a bit similar though nowhere near as karaoke worthy. Oh and a bit of gong and church bell action is never a bad thing in my book.

Towards the end the EP begins to peter out, offering little I hadn’t already heard in the other tracks plus some new lyrical lows (“I thought you were a boxer so I took you to a fight…” plus similar in Regret, Damnations and Dreams being both bizarre and unintentionally funny) but Nothing is at least noticeable for the unique melding of the four previous songs into a whole new track even if the result is a bit unsettling (I had to check the last song wasn’t on repeat).

Despite some issues in the song-writing department and repetition towards the end, James Bowers clearly has a knack for musical composition. He is quoted in saying “I’ve quit trying to be clever” in terms of wanting his songs to be simple but that’s nothing but a disservice to the high quality of tracks here on this EP. It may be just small details but they can often be the most important and tracks like 17 and Night Time Coming Down are completely lifted through subtle changes in vocal tone, a new sound or a different pace. The versatility apparent is more than welcomed and is enough proof to me that Bowers could produce a very adept full length LP when the time comes around regardless whether the current age of the singer/songwriter may have been eclipsed by another at that point.

 





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