Kelley James - The Pattern Transcending
2013, Kelley James Music
2013, Kelley James Music
Kelley James might just be the next icon of modern pop. Mixing pop, rock, freestyle rap and electronic sounds with old fashioned acoustic guitars, Kelley makes a little bit of music for all tastes and styles. James has toured with O.A.R., Mike Posner, Shwayze and Joshua Radin and has played a number of high profile gigs over the past five years. Whether or not you like his style, James is a barometer of the moment, moving from style to style as no barriers exist between them. Kelley James’ new album, The Pattern Transcending, sounds a bit young lyrically at times, but the infectious tunes are all most people will need to hear to fall for James’ quirky style.
James gets things rolling with the edgy, electro-alternative sounds of "Marinade", a coital daydream with foodie pretensions. "Sucks" is all about missing your favorite person. The simple construct of this song makes it a bit of affable ear candy with radio potential. "That's My Girl" is a simple celebration of love or lust. The writing here is young, but the sentiments are clear. "Don't Want to Let You Go" features James in a speak/sing navel gazer lamenting the end of a relationship. This one has a whiny feel that weighs on the listener.
James pulls out a reggae beat for "Stalker", wherein James details all the reasons he's not, but ends up admitting he may be. The lighthearted attempt at humor falls flat, as James goes for a joke that is too easy and obvious. "Secret Lover" laments being in a relationship with a woman who "acts like a dude'. James is left to wonder why she won't call or text the next day. "Carolina" is a love song to the region, with a hook filled chorus that you can't quite get out of your head. James is at his best here. Don't be surprised of this song ends up as part of a tourism campaign at some point. "Wonderful Place" has a mellower feel to it, and explores how any place can take on beauty if it’s enjoyed with the right person.
"The Legend of Rip Venice" is the sort of pop song that makes serious waves. Killer hooks with elements of pop, soul and funk as well as a bit of 1970s flavor make this eminently listenable. "California" is a bit bland and predictable, but James recovers with the reggae jam "This Means War". There's good energy here, and James shows a bit more complexity in his song construction. The album slips away with a lovely parting shot in the form of "Brother", a gentle ode to friendship; family and making dreams come true. This is a masterful piece of songwriting, both deeply personal and universal all at once. The chorus does fall into cliché a bit, but it’s a trivial sin in an otherwise memorable song.
Kelley James is both better and worse than advertised. The main has a knack for catchy, hook-filled pop songs as well snappy lyrical flows. Unfortunately he also has a tendency to arrive at some truly awkward lyrical backlogs at times. These approach laughable status at times, but more often than not they serve merely as a distraction to the catchy pop craft on The Pattern Transcending. One gets the idea that perhaps James is just trying to be too cute in his wordplay. Either way, there’s a whole world of potential here.
Rating: 3.5 Stars (Out of 5)
Learn more at www.kelleyjames.com.