- Broken Glass Twisted Steel
Self - released
The fact that James House
isn't a major star is one of the biggest injustices in country music today.
won much acclaim for his
1989 self-titled debut country album, drawing praise for his
sturdy but graceful tunes, however, he
failed to connect with American country radio or record buyers.
Sadly the same fate befell HARD TIMES FOR AN HONEST MAN, his
equally impressive second album.
As I sat listening to this superb album and refreshed my taste buds with James'
earlier albums, I wondered how the dancers managed to latch on to this music.
James House is a superb songwriter and has one of the most distinctive voices to grace country music over the past 30-odd years.
A traditional stylist with passion and personality, he
balances melodic immediacy and lyrics that look, often unblinkingly, at the perils, delights and complexities of intimacy and romance.
writes and sings with a certain masculine fragility and gets a downright human sound out of his
This 'comeback' album is a landmark for James House
, balancing his
new songs' unfiltered emotional honesty with the effortless melodic craft that's always been a hallmark of his
By embodying the qualities that have always been at the heart of his
work, while introducing some vital new elements to the mix, he
demonstrates that, after a lifetime of music-making, James House's
flame still burns as brightly as ever.
Opening track, Train Wreck, is gently percussive with a luxurious strumming guitar; his
echoing vocals and a haunting melody will be with you long after its swirling harmonies fade.
The album's title comes from this superbly written song.
Here's To You is classic country, from the heartbreaking lyrics to the near-perfect arrangement of pedal steel, fiddle, tinkling piano and sweet, slightly sad guitar.
For the first time James
has recorded his
own versions of three of the biggest hits that he
penned for others.
Almost effortlessly he
makes you forget forever those well-known hit versions.
offers an angst-ridden vocal to Ain't That Lonely Yet that brings a whole new depth to the song-I can picture the line-dancers confused faces when this one starts up as they all look down at their feet, willing them to come up with some suitable footwork to match the downbeat mood of this stunning song.
I always quite liked Diamond Rio's In A Week or Two, but I'm not sure I'd want to hear it again as the writer completely re-invents his
own song to give it an emotional depth that I'd never heard before.
Don't let the fact that James House'
career has been resurrected by line-dancers put you off his