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Susan James / Bio

Susan James’, “Highways, Ghosts, Hearts & Home,” released in 2011, earned the praise of Ryan Adams,
who tweeted about her “great songs” and killer band. Now on Driving Toward the
Sun out February 19, 2013 on Megaforce/Sony RED, James teams up with producer
Ryan Ulyate, producer for Tom Petty and George Harrison among others. Ulyate is just
one of the many talented people who James attracts to her projects - the new album
includes legendary Los Angeles drummer Don Heffington who has worked with Buddy
Miller, The Jayhawks, The Wallflowers, Kathleen Edwards and more – a well as guitarist
Neal Casal, who has collaborated with Adams and others over the years.
With a California hybrid of psychedelic country-folk rock, she has shared stages with
Lindsey Buckingham, Sun Volt, Richard Thompson, Rufus Wainright, and Daniel Lanois
just to name a few. “People might want to think this is sort of a ‘country’ album, simply
because some of the songs have pedal steel. I love the sound of a good pedal steel and
here, it’s used more as ‘color’ than a ‘country stamp’ on my songs,” she explains. “I
naturally consider my music equal parts folk, rock, acoustic, singer-songwriter and yes, a
little country, but with a specific California sound.”
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“When Ryan (Ulyate) and I began, we talked about how it should be as acoustic as
possible, but still have a big sound. Our aim was to get the acoustic guitar to really rock,
like the guitars in the Rolling Stones Street Fighting Man or something like that. We
called it 'The Wall of Intimacy.’ And every song had to have it in a way, no matter how big
or small the song was. I think we achieved it, and I'm proud to share it with everyone
James has been described by The Los Angeles Times as a “a master at exploring the
emotional and sonic possibilities,” and Blurt Magazine noted, “excellent songwriting and
an eye for musical details.” On Driving Towards The Sun, she affirms the praise with
insightful and big-picture stories. “This collection of songs came to me as vivid, visual
snapshots. Each one as an emotional moment in the breakdown of a long-term
relationship. And it’s more than just a breakup… the loss is deeper, and inexplicable.
Perhaps you can’t quite put your finger on what was the cause of it all falling apart. And
even after all that, there’s a glimpse of redemption, a new chapter.”
Not that James isn’t happily situated with a longterm marriage and 10-year old daughter.
As a quickly rising artist, in 2000, she released her third album, Fantastic Voyage, and
toured globally, with a European record deal to boot. But subsequently went on a long
break to raise her child. “There were certain people that thought it was a bad decision…
because at that time I was really making a name for myself. I was gaining recognition
steadily, getting some great shows, and was told if I step away for a time, I would be
forgotten. And yes, that's hard punishment to take for love and a child, but what I've
gained creatively and personally makes me know it was absolutely the right thing.”
The title track kicks off the album with a positive message of acceptance helmed by
James’ adept guitar work - and vocally sounding like a throwback to records made by
Roseanne Cash and Linda Ronstadt in previous decades.
James closes the album with “Mission Bells.” Accompanying James’ guitar, the pedal
steel is languid and ghostly, as played by Eric Heywood (Sun Volt, Richard Buckner,
Alejandro Escovedo). The end turns to a repetitive chant, while the lyrics are reminding
the lost love to celebrate love through all it’s sorrows and joys…no matter what - And final redemption.

Praise for Susan James and “Highways, Ghosts, Hearts & Homes”…
“She’s a stunner…but it was her music that was the magnet. Her voice rises and falls like
a gentle waterfall. She strummed with gusto as well as grace.” Cleveland Plain
Dealer, Jane Scott
“Susan James earned the praise of Ryan Adams, who tweeted about her “great songs” and
killer band…it’s clear from just one listen of Highways that James knows what she’s
doing.” American Songwriter
“That dreamlike quality is evident throughout, but never diffuses the music’s impact.
Quite the opposite: Highways, Ghosts, Hearts & Home is rich with imagery and as vivid
as it is varied.” Music and Musicians
“….a series of heart-torn songs that are clever, defiant, amusing and poignant by turns…
James, certainly isn’t one to mince words when addressing a lover’s betrayal, yet she’s too
gifted a lyricist to settle for venting her anger with a mindless rant.” Washington Post

General Info

Artist Name
Susan James
Profile Page
Indie / Folk / Psychedelic

Contact Info

Topanga, CA