And what an intense vocal performance he produced.
Needle to vinyl; a scattershot rim ushers 'Pray the Dawn' in, and you melt into the sofa:
Just another star-crossed lover
Fallen on the thorns of life
The strings of The Scottish BT Ensemble wrap themselves around the song and all is well with world.
Faultless arrangement after faultless arrangement follows; it's all swoon-some and pitch perfect.
There's emotion wrung from every note of voice and guitar but never does it feel forced; a genuine tour de force in fact.
I hate to get trainspotterish but there are moments of singing on 'I Don't Know You Anymore' that are truly transcendent. Grant has ditched the nasal whine that tainted some of his previous performances; now the sustain and control is spectacular. If you have the album listen to the Chicken Skin moments as they come thick and fast in just that one song:
- 'I never tried to love you...' The vibrato on 'you' (1.00)
- 'To bring it back somehooooow...' The tremulous sustain on the last word (1.10)
- The same section of the 2nd chorus (2.20)
- The restraint of the first guitar solo (warmed by exquisite strings) after the second chorus (2.30 - 3.10)
- That same vocal section of the 3rd chorus (3.44)
- The final guitar blitz at 3.58
It's sultry and sonorous fare; serious as shingles. You can't imagine James wearing a paper crown at the christmas party and offering you a tug on his cracker...
It seems too that the man (or his label) is oddly protective of this work; I notice that there are no downloads available on Amazon or iTunes and it's really hard to find YouTube videos of any tracks from the album. Maybe I'm being a numbskull but I can't place this video of 'I Don't Know You Anymore' on the page. It's well worth clicking the link to see.
I'm not big on solos but, bugger me, there's a fine moment at the end of the song that rivals the album version. It makes me want to get the tennis racket out and go strut my stuff in the bedroom mirror.
Finally, here's a solo version of 'This is the Last Time' that passes muster mirthlessly...