Now this is one I’ve been waiting for. Ever since reviewing ‘The Rest Of Our Lives’ last month I’ve been patiently waiting for the release of this album.
Finally, the day has come. The moment my wonderful editor (I’ll take the brownie points where I can) inboxed me to write up this album review I wasted no time.
Straight on to SoundCloud with pen and paper at the ready it was, then. As you may have guessed from my excitement, James Fox did not disappoint me.
With a flurry of influences such as rock, country, blues and folk, he’s produced a wonderful, guitar driven record in ‘All The Fours’ that has something for everyone.
The most impressive part being that he performed and produced the album himself! Bar the drums, every last drop of ‘All The Fours’ is full of his blood, sweat and tears.
I found it so refreshing for an artist to be this invested in a project, something the big names of the music world rarely are these days.
On writing and recording the album, James said:
‘This album was written during a year that most of us were forced to stop. I rediscovered music again and started writing songs for the first time in years.
The songs needed to come out, it felt like it was writing itself from time to time. I started getting very reflective and sifting through my past for the first time. It was therapeutic in many ways but also exhausting, upsetting and difficult.
I have been as honest as I can possibly be with the lyrics on this album and have talked about everything from my issues with gambling, loss of family, friends, the music business, my own demons and fears, right though to hope, finding new and real love and happiness and everything that was in between.’
I for one have certainly enjoyed the journey. Other highlights of James‘ career include playing for The Queen no fewer than three times (!), while he’s also achieved two top 20 singles and represented the UK at the Eurovision Song Contest.
The album’s first track ‘Nightfall’ is a brilliant opener for this album. It’s a really strong showing of what’s to come with some cracking lyrics and amazing musicality to back it up. The ability he has to make the music and lyrics bounce off one another so effectively is the mark of a quality musician. When one takes a step back, the other shines through.
With its high energy and impactful beat, I’m left feeling like I’m listening to a James Bond theme. In this track, there are even points where he sounds like the late, great Chris Cornell who sang the theme for ‘Casino Royale’.
Later, James treats us to an instrumental which helps to break up the track and show us his multitude of talent. However, he doesn’t over do it to the point we become bored of the song – another sign that he knows exactly what he’s doing.
The next track I want to focus on is the title track ‘All The Fours’. Starting off with a hint of his folk inspirations, coupled up with an indie pop vibe, he immediately lets us know that he really is a great musician. In my head, it really shouldn’t work, but it just does. As the track comes into its own, I feel like I’m listening to Robbie Williams in his prime. This guy really is that good.
Some of you may be questioning James’ originality by me drawing all these comparisons, but he does well to put his own stamp on every track. Whilst he may sound or come across like well established singers, he stays true to himself, making sure his style is what prevails at the end of every track. The proof lies in me singing the chorus after only listening to it once! It’s a catchy tune that invites you to sing along; even my mum was joining in at the end.
However, without wanting to stray from his roots, the classic guitar James is known for is evident throughout. His ability to match lyrics, style and beat so well is something you rarely see in musicians that are coming onto the scene. It’s not a one time thing either, he gets it right on every song.
Next up is ‘Lifeline’. This one’s for all you romantics out there. With a slower beat, it lends itself to the more emotional of listeners (me included).
Pausing the guitar, he uses his skills on the piano to open this one. By using the softer sounds of the instrument, it allows us to hear more of his vocal range and see what he can really do. Another thing that really impresses me with James is the fact you can physically hear the differing emotions in his voice. In a passionate song like this, his versatility is clear for all to see. His slower, intimate style is a complete change from the high energy songs at the beginning of the album.
Alongside his talented voice, we get to see his numerous skills with different instruments. The piano is played effortlessly, as if the tune wrote itself. By altering the style of track it stops the album from becoming stale and keeps you hooked.
The final track on the album is ‘Hope’, which is, as you could guess, another success. Again, we’re hit with a different style; a more modern, upbeat poppy vibe. Accompanying this is the introduction of studio sounds rather than the rawness of instruments.
Halfway through, he adds another dimension by incorporating backing singers which help to add some depth to a track that in places is lacking it. However, I think, in his decision to lean towards the studio sound, he’s somewhat lost himself.
Still, the most amazing part about the album lies in how James displayed a brilliant show of musicianship despite remaining incredibly simplistic in his approach. In my mind, he’s talented enough not to need the input of studio-produced noise. When you’ve got as much raw talent as James has, let it take centre stage.
Overall, this album really is superb.
The general public will have to wait just a little longer for the full release on February 5th.
Until then, why not listen to James‘ Spotify to get you ready for the album dropping
Apple Music: https://music.apple.com/gb/album/nightfall-single/1493173628
Listen to the latest episode of The Quite Great Radio Show:
Follow Quite Great’s new partnered platform Cambridge Unwrapped: