Album Review: Susan James channels mystical sounds of ’60s Californian folk movement on ‘Sea Glass’

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Susan James Sea Glass Album Cover

Post-modern folk rocker Susan James channels the mystical sounds of the ‘60s Californian folk movement on her latest album Sea Glass.

Set for release June 16 on Sunstone Records, and co-arranged by Sean O’Hagan (High Llamas, Stereolab, Super Furry Animals), the vocal and guitar driven tracks on Sea Glass give James’ music that down-to-earth folk familiarity. “Poseidon’s Daughter” is perhaps the best example of the typical folk elements on this album, the simple guitar driven melody brings to mind the likes of Jefferson Airplane.

But the post-modern aspect of her music is enlivened in a way reminiscent of the Beatles later in their career, and even in her carefree keyboard solos that channel the Beach Boys. For instance, “Hey Julianne” features the beautiful harmonization of the keyboard, tambourine, and James’ vocals. The song overflows with optimistic vibes, but if you listen closely there is more to the track than upbeat lightheartedness, pointing to the lyrical complexity of James’ music.

This is to say that while all of the songs on Sea Glass feature similar elements, that is they all draw from the same musical era, thematically James draws from a wide range of topics including environmentalism, introspective thought, natural disasters, mythology, and existentialism. The lyrics in each song are poetic, and James makes excellent use of poetic elements to create meaningful pauses, thoughtful messages, and moving metaphors.

With 11 tracks to choose from, there is lots to love on Sea Glass. Don’t forget to check her out on Facebook and Twitter.

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Samantha Stevens has been singing along with the radio for as long as she can remember. Guided by a love for music, she spent the better part of her childhood performing in classical and contemporary choirs. But straight out of high school, she decided that she wanted to see the world, and so she did what any young adventurer would do…she joined the navy. An entire world of sounds, music, and stories opened up to her, and she found herself inspired by it all. In 2015, she retired from the Royal Canadian Navy after over a decade of service. Since then she has achieved a BA in literature, will soon have an MA in journalism, and is even a trained journalist and reporter. Currently living near Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Samantha has written for a wide variety of publications including Spill Magazine, Stereo Embers Magazine, and the North Bay Nugget. She still sings for the sheer joy of it.

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