Blue James Band proves that the styles aren’t really so far removed. Can reggae and rock mix on the same track? Certainly! Can calypso styles mix with jazzier elements? We know they can. Blue James Band isn’t the first to do all of this, but they are among the few that do it cleanly and with impact.
What styles does the band hit on? “Not Ready for You” is a rock track that turns reggae, before swinging back and forth between the two. “Long Distance Love” is a more plaintive rock song with a whining pedal steel that requisitely throws it into a country/rock category; the singing is far from a country approach. “Give Me the Love, or Give Me the Fight” has a Latino/Caribbean feel to it that demands the listener’s feet to shuffle. The organ packed “Who are You” is ready for any jamband-loving crowd. Along those lines, “Everyone’s Running” bears a sound that would have fit comfortable into Phish’s Farmhouse album. The sax work on “Between Two Lands” begins akin to something from a DMB vein before switching to a song that falls uniquely back into Blue James Band’s sound.
How are the unique elements within the package? The vocal delivery is light and easy on the ears. It’s a sound that isn’t likely to turn anyone off, while remaining appealing enough to pull in some serious fans. The musicianship is equally tight through the progressions and shifts in styles. Put it all together, and you have a band with both the potential to grow and the ability to grab some career-long fans in the process.
So, Blue James Band will likely have something in its repertoire that will appeal to most listeners, at various points. It must be noted that a band with so many changes may also encounter the listener that is turned on, turned off, and turned back on again through the cycles. But, that’s the band’s prerogative. A band shouldn’t shape itself to fit a niche. If they do, they aren’t likely to last.
Three albums in, Blue James Band is a progressive and growing band that releases songs that represent the various styles the band obviously loves. Will all listeners love it? Of course not! Will most listeners find a band the can groove to? I’d say that the Blue James Band has a steadfast foundation and will please most ears, more often than not.
- Jeremy Sanchez