I don’t think it’s a big secret anymore how much of a huge Patrick James fan I am.
Since discovering him in a room of about seven people at a little Melbourne gig more than two years ago, he and his band never fail to blow me out of the water – whether it’s a single, EP, or live set I’m repeatedly astounded by how far they come every time.
It’s been a huge twelve months for James, too. He’s supported Boy & Bear on a 29-date tour of regional Australia, toured with Emma Louise, Josh Pyke and Pete Murray, and had single ‘Wait’ on Channel Ten’s Offspring. Already a huge protestor of character Patrick’s death on the popular drama, I shed my fair share of tears hearing the track upon his ‘ghost’ return!
While stylistically the EP is not incredibly different to any of his past material, the record is just more refined, mature and indulgent than previous releases. Harmonies have always been James’ strong point, and they really do go from strength to strength in this EP; simple melodies enhanced immensely by beautiful, dense harmonies that just fill the space so wonderfully.
Guest female vocalist Olympia blends well into James’ warm tone, and although their track ‘Fight With Me’ could possibly do with just a touch more contrast between climax and anti-climaxes, it – like the rest of the release – is chilled, eloquent and just OOZING sweetness and shy charm.
His band’s sound just gets more cohesive every time they release a song, and you can tell that each musician’s technical skills on their respective instruments are improving rapidly as well, which is something you can rarely pick from a release – but definitely a good thing!
The EP is polished; clean-cut and perfected, which shows the clarity appearing in James’ work. However, it would be lovely to see his live sets – a real strength – reflected a little more in the recorded material.
‘Something In The Way’, for example (a gorgeous song regardless), has a beautiful chorus that is played live with these moments of suspense and silence that give the track an atmosphere and emotion that really connects with the listener. While not really detracting from the song, the almost-spontaneous moments like that are what makes James’ performances really special, and I’d love to see that spontaneity captured in a recording – though hard to do in the studio!
Honestly, this is clutching at straws. It’s pretty hard to fault this EP, the third release for an artist who – at 21 – is already a well-accomplished master of his art.
I say it every time I write about him, but there’s absolutely no doubting he’s going to be huge one day – an Australian frontrunner in his genre, that’s for sure.