What category does the music of James Crawford most closely fit? With obvious blues and jazz influences, more than a hint of country, folk, a bit of western swing and dixieland, the musical vocabulary he draws from is as varied and rich as the ten tracks on his self-titled debut.
His own career in music has been equally diverse, from 1980s rock to blues and country, with an emphasis on songwriting and performance. His early song “Love Can Make You Blind” charted in the Billboard Top 20 for Every Mother’s Nightmare on Arista Records while James toured Canada and Alaska with his first blues band. Back in Nashville, he continued to explore new genres and develop his unique songwriting style, playing country music with Sony recording artist Brad Cotter and Americana with Nancy Middleton, while working weeknights with a blues three-piece and an acoustic duo.
His self-titled debut, James Crawford, encompasses all these musical influences and draws upon those hard-won experiences to present an altogether eclectic musical vision in the vein of singer-songwriters like Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, and Lyle Lovett. From songs like “Headed for the Promised Land,” whose protagonist moves inexorably closer towards marriage, with all its rewards and limitations, propelled by an ominous walking bass line and stutter step guitar, to the steel-guitar licks and tender affection of the lullaby offered to an unhappy lover in “Tremble Town,” the new album is by turns melancholy and cheerful in its exploration of the complications of adult life for youthful rebels, wild girls and wistful dreamers, “too bored to stay” but “Too Scared to Run Away.” For an album strongly centered on his own guitar performances, James has enlisted upright bassist Tracey Ayer (Brad Cotter, Parish Music Box) to explore the contours and history of the American musical landscape. — Michael Wilson
“James Crawford wraps a tasty crust of spicy syncopated blues around some sweet poetry and cooks up a healthy serving of excellent music in his self titled debut.” — Bob Saporiti, Former Senior Vice President & General Manager, Warner Bros. Records