Thursday 11 April 2024

James - Yummy

James release their 18th studio album on Friday. Graham McPhail, aka TimBoothLyrics on social media, takes a critical look at the twelve tracks that make up one of the strongest records of their career to date.

I started the TimBoothLyrics Twitter page in 2016, Tim started to retweet my posts and interact, giving insight (insight of the day) and correcting my mondegreens. This led to a deeper understanding to some of my favourite tracks by the band. Frankie’s star from What’s The World referring to Frankenstein’s monster and the biblical reference to Joshua’s destruction of Jericho in Scarecrow.

Well over half my life has been spent analysing Booth’s lyrics, sometimes with a fine-tooth comb.

On to Yummy, James album number 18, after 40+ years, Tim still has something important to say.

Opening with Is This Love (not a Moyet cover), a few bemoaned the electronic sound and beat when originally aired in January, but I love it, as with most of the album, each track deserves a deeper dive. In my opinion, from Girl onwards, James have developed tracks with so many layers, forcing their audience to try a little harder. Is This Love deals with the complexity of the deepest of emotions and rather than posing a question, demands a unified understanding of that which binds us.

Life’s A Fucking Miracle is, as you would expect, a celebration of all walks of life. In a world where there are so many scared to show a solidarity with people who are not seen as equals, Tim meets them with open arms, or with a placard reading ‘WELCOME’ and a mantra of “She, He, We, They”.

Better With You is a love song, innocent and reflective, beginning slowly, it builds sonically and culminates in an aspiration that the lovers will ‘both be on that flight, drink in the Northern Lights as the planet’s consumed’.

Stay has been one of my favourites since my first listen of the album. Don’t ask me what it’s about, it’s one of those I’d have to ask Tim to explain to me in depth, but he prefers listeners make up their own minds of subject matter at times…

Shadow Of A Giant is a six-minute epic, with rich musical flavours, a piano intro by a guest musician that flows beautifully into haunting vocals which could be Chloe, who brings so much to almost every track on this album, cementing her inclusion into the James fold. Saul and Andy also showing why they belong and have been much of a central cog to the rich sound of James for decades. The song tackles the pain of not having a definitive ‘home’… ‘My whole life’s in lockups and hard drives, check-ins and goodbyes, diaries, dates and easyJet flights’.

What follows next is a requiem of sorts, Way Over Your Head deals with depression and the monotonous hamster wheel of life in general, the subject begging for a ‘simpler life, that’s calling me, a spit of land community. Can you come around and rescue me, how blessed I am, your love to receive…’, the song closes with a beautiful chorus of voices, imploring someone to come and put them to bed.

Mobile God is as it says on the tin, a disparaging view on something we can’t live without, that was probably written on an iPhone in the middle of the night, note the irony… For me, the line that hits hardest is ‘I’m with your kids, you don’t really want to…’, I must go and play some football with the boys when I’ve finished writing this (on my iPhone). I’m not an expert on the musical side of things but Leo Abrahams seems to have navigated the James waters with a masterful hand, each listen to this album delivers something new to appreciate.

Our World was the second track released from the album and is another track in the same vein as Nothing But Love, All The Colours Of You and Many Faces, a song of unity, which shows us that we are connected by so much more than that which sets out to divide us. Beautiful backing vocals and a catchy riff, trots along at a fun tempo and has been received well on social media by most.

Rogue feels like a bit of a confessional autobiography, which gives Tim a chance to reflect on how life passes you by without ever realising its leaving. It also gave me the opportunity to look up the word habiru… and shows how hypercritical artists can be on themselves.

Hey seems to find it’s inspiration drawn from Tim’s own personal interest in conspiracy theories and musings that Tim shares on his Twitter page. Admittedly, this was the track that took me the longest time to appreciate, now it is my go to album track, something that I have found with most of the post reformation albums; the instant hits make you neglect the beauty of the subtler album tracks (Of Monsters and Heroes and Men, Interrogation, Move Down South).

Without doubt, my favourite song from the album is the journey song Butterfly, easily imagined as a movie, it will be interesting to hear/see Tim singing the rescue section of this song live. The music and lyrics are pure James through and through and there aren’t the superlative adjectives to describe the song. It’s a thing of beauty that floats and swirls like a butterfly in flight and segues beautifully into the closing track Folks, which sounds like an ominous goodbye, which I pray is far from the truth, as there’s so much more James truth to be explored and produced.

Harking back to my first section, Tim drops literary characters, Ariadne and Jonah into the mix, showing that even 40 years after Shelley inspired What’s The World, Tim is influenced, even in the smallest ways by such things as Greek mythology and biblical references, makes him that little bit more interesting doesn’t it…

Yummy is out on April 12th, if it gets to No.1 in the album charts, it will be No.1 for my birthday. A suitable present for this James lyric compiler.

A signed version of the deluxe version of the album featuring both Yummy and Pudding can be ordered from Amazon.

James tour at Barcelona Sala Razzmatazz (May 15), Madrid La Riviera (16), Valencia Deleste Festival (18), Bournemouth O2 Academy (29), Aberdeen P&J Arena (June 3), Newcastle Utilita Arena (5), Glasgow OVO Hydro (7), Leeds First Direct Arena (8), Cardiff Utilita Arena (11), Birmingham Utilita Arena (12), Manchester CO-OP Live (14), London O2 Arena (15), Lisbon Rock In Rio (22), Bedford Summer Sessions (July 6), Lytham Festival (7), Stornoway Hebcelt Festival (19), Ludlow Castle (25), Scarborough Open Air Theatre (26) and Powderham Castle Gone Wild Festival (August 24)

James' official website can be found here. They are on Facebook and Twitter.  Some of the band - TimAndy and Dave - are also on Twitter.

We also run the One Of The Three James archive, the most detailed resource for information about the band, and the site also has a Facebook and Twitter page.

TimBoothLyricADay, whose posts often lead to Tim explaining his thought processes behind the lyrics, can be found on Twitter and Facebook


Follow Even The Stars on Twitter at @eventhestarsuk and like our Facebook page for all the latest updates

No comments:

Post a Comment