James Dunn’s catalog of songs is marked by powerful lyrics about the road of life, not only from his perspective, but also through the eyes of others. His ability to weave story and personal experience into song and make a connection with fans has been at the heart of Dunn’s songwriting and performing career and song since his debut EP, “Lonely American Dream” in 2006. His new record, “The Bed We Made” is the follow up to 2008’s “The Long Ride Home”, which was critically praised in the US and Europe, landing his album on the Americana Music Charts for over 2 months. In addition, his music has been featured on ESPN, TNT, A&E, FOX and used by the NCAA & NHL.
“I moved out to Nashville from Raleigh in early 2008 to make my second record, which was really my first full length album. I had done the 8 song “Lonely American Dream” EP in Raleigh and I just felt it was time to change things up. I had connected up with some great musicians in my travels in Nashville and decided to make the move, as I thought it would help me grow my music career in different ways and I was at a crossroads point in my life, and knew it was time to make a move.” ‘The Long Ride Home’ proved to be an artistic breakout for Dunn. With a full tour schedule and numerous songs landing on network television, Dunn’s fan base grew and has been continuing to build in anticipation of his new album.
“When I started thinking about making this new record, I wanted to incorporate some different musical arrangements and overall production with the songs. I have always been a fan of the dark and mysterious and ghostly sounds on records and really appreciated the songwriters who could make a topic that might not be very happy, sound really great.” It’s very apparent of the mood Dunn was looking to set from the opening notes on the title track, “The Bed We Made” as well as “Keeping Score” and “Slipped Away” which are clearly the songs that hold the album together, from a lyrical standpoint. “While I was putting together the songs for this record I was doing a lot of reflecting on growing up, my family life, my own life and some of my friends lives and just trying to write some honest feelings to music in hopes that it will connect with people.”
Dunn was born in Wayne, New Jersey and moved to Raleigh, North Carolina when he was a kid and grew up playing baseball and being obsessed with anything that was sports, specifically N.C. State basketball, the same university where Dunn eventually earned his degree from. “It’s funny, I didn’t pick up a guitar until I was 26 years old. I was always a huge fan of music, but I was so involved with sports growing up, whether I was playing or watching games, that I really didn’t think of music as something I could or would ever do. My grandfather, who lived in Drums, Pennsylvania was a musician and a painter. I used to go visit him during my breaks in college and he was always giving me musical instruments to play, be it guitars, violins, trumpets, piccolos, you name it, but I didn’t think about it seriously until my mid 20s. He would probably not believe that I’m about to release my 3rd album.” Though Dunn grew up in the south, his influences are clearly tied to his birth state of New Jersey, and the music of Bruce Springsteen.
“Yeah, Springsteen was definitely my ‘musical epiphany’ if you will. I can remember getting a copy of “Darkness on The Edge of Town” in early college and it really struck me in a way that I knew I wanted to do something creative and musical, I just had to figure out how to do it and teach myself how to play. Writing was always something I liked, but tackling the guitar was daunting. I taught myself how to play ‘Atlantic City’ and ‘The River’ on the acoustic and that really moved me forward in regards to my own playing and wanting to write.” Springsteen, Petty, Jackson Browne, Bob Seger, Chris Isaak and Buddy Holly are all artists that Dunn looks to as favorites and guides for his own music. “Those guys are a few of my favorites that I’ve always looked to for inspiration. I’m a big fan of lots of different stuff.”
“My goal as a songwriter is to somehow write something, that will move another person on an emotional level. Basically, to just feel something beyond the ordinary day to day grind of life. If it’s a happy feeling or a reflective feeling, it doesn’t matter. You just want to be able to reach out and somehow make your songs part of the fabric of other people’s lives. You want to try and craft that song that people will always tie memories to. If I can do that, then I’ll feel like I’ve done a pretty good job of writing a song.”