Popping with the rich, soaring falsetto that initially captured fans’ attention, the Australian pop singer-songwriter’s new EP, High, is an electro-R&B influenced journey of love. But don’t just think relationships.
Along the way, you’ll hear shimmery synths, soul-driven piano ballads and even some organ-laced gospel rhythms. But High takes you deeper than just melodies and hooks; the EP leads with emotion over agenda. James is one of those singers who is more artist than activist.
“To me, that’s a poetic thing,” James says. “I don’t like trying to write songs about a theme. For me personally I find that really cheesy. I try to make emotional music, and there’s no agenda in that. I find that sometimes people need to have a release of emotions, whether they understand it or not, because that can be liberating.”
Nowhere is this more apparent on High than on the title track. “High” represents a recovery of, and within, James’ career. He says that at one point in his decade-long journey, he gave up.
“I had no money left; I had no drive left; I didn’t know what to do,” he says. “I had been signed to a deal, and it didn’t work and all that sort of stuff. I had been through all these experiences, so I just stopped making music altogether.”
James stayed in that place for nearly two years. But the reason he walked away became the same reason for his struggles. James left his first love.
“When I realized the reason is because I eliminated this thing from my life, which was one of the reasons that I know I was born: to make music. The first song I wrote when I started back was ‘High.’”
The same thing that drove James away is the same thing that pulled him back into the journey. And that injects High—in contrast to most emotional pop—with the sense not of despair or cynicism, but hope.
Why we love him:
High’s stream of falsetto depth brings something unique to an often shallow genre, but you won’t give up the experience of intricate, glittering synths and pop hooks that won’t let you go.
For fans of:
Chet Faker, Vera Blue, Daniel Johns