James Stevenson is a guitarist with over 30 years in the music business much of that has been spent playing as a gun-for-hire with some of the great and good of the punk/new wave era including Gen X (Billy Idol/Tony James) and notably as guitarist for Kim Wilde – he is in the Kids In America video.
A large part of his career has been as a member of Gene Loves Jezebel (the one connected to Jay Aston). Most recently James could be seen playing rhythm guitar on The Cult’s last tour, playing the whole of their tremendous “Electric” album, inbetween all that he has found time to record a full length solo album, released on 10th December and going by the grandiose title of “Everything’s Getting Closer To Being Over”.
So what do we get from Mr Stevenson? Undeniably brilliant guitar playing as you would expect from a man with such a pedigree but perhaps some more laid back songs than his recording history would suggest.
Album opener “Suzi’s Problem” boasts a mid-tempo groove that is more than agreeable. “Go Mister!” complete with a nice riff, Hammond organ and female backing singers follows this and is probably one of the heavier songs on the album (not that you could really call it heavy). Twilight Riders is next up and continues the light rock theme and is probably one of the best songs on the album, replete with more female backing vocals – a theme throughout the album as they are also on Come On People the first of the laid back “late night” feel songs. The chorus has a sort of gospel feeling to it – probably as a result of the backing singers – and there is a lovely trumpet solo as well.
Stevenson can turn his hand to many different styles as evidenced by the funk of “Give It Up”; the bluesy “Why Am I Still Waiting For You?” and “Been A Long Time Now” and even an acoustic closer “I’ll Know Where I’m Going When I Get There”.
The album is generally a decent listen but with one caveat – and here we come to the main problem, the lead vocals. The songs are generally very strong and superbly played but Stevenson’s voice is the weak link here. Undeniably he is a great guitarist and his songwriting is better than a lot of other more well known artists (so much so that I’m going to have a listen some of his Gene Loves Jezebel output) but his voice isn’t strong enough nor has it enough variance to be a lead. It’s a shame as the material here is very strong and worthy of investigation.
Maybe I’m being a little unfair as I really enjoyed the album – best you check it out and decide for yourself…..?
1. Suzi's Problem
2. Go Mister!
3. Twilight Riders
4. Come on People
5. Give It Up
6. Why Am I Still Waiting For You?
7. Been A Long Time Now
8. Naturally Wired
9. Everything's Getting Closer To Being Over
10. I'll Know Where I'm Going When I Get There