“I want to write songs that touch people and come from a real place,” says singer-songwriter Oliver James. His powerful debut, Chasing The Sun (Wire & Wood Recordings LTD), is an emotionally rich journey with exquisite songcraft, painful realities, and an epically cinematic production aesthetic.
“I called it Chasing The Sun because you simply can never catch the sun, and if you could, you’d melt. So the metaphor represents hopes, dreams, decisions and ramifications,” he says.
Prior to issuing his well-crafted 8-song debut, Oliver tested the waters by releasing the beautifully haunting ballad “Keep Breathing.” The song is a deeply moving tribute to the men and women in the armed services. It is a boldfaced plea for those who place themselves in harm’s way to come home to their loved ones – alive. “Keep Breathing” quickly earned 10,000 radio spins and critical acclaim. Mossip.livejournal.com said: “Keep Breathing’ is the first single from Oliver’s upcoming album, and in short, it is the perfect power ballad.” Yousingiwrite.com praised: “’Keep Breathing’ is complete of emotions. Somber yet hopeful, inspiring and tragic, the music ascends at the most opportune moment and grabs the listener’s undivided attention. With the wishful notion that all soldiers come home alive, a universal concept that many would agree on, James’ debut release is sure to leave a mark.”
Chasing The Sun is boldly sincere with a production aesthetic that is both elegantly restrained and sweepingly grand. Each tune is addressed individually and produced in a way that’s authentic but also tastefully theatrical. The gorgeously somber “Before He Turned The Gun On Himself” has an elegiac 15-piece orchestra and David Letterman’s Late Night Gospel Choir soul-saving backup vocals. The goose bump-inducing pop-rock of “Running Back To You” is lean and muscular, tailored to Oliver’s pristinely urgent vocals with full-bodied guitars and a driving rhythm section.
Oliver is a courageous writer with a lyric touch that’s eloquent and bluntly poignant. On “Before He Turned The Gun Himself” he sings: “Going through life while going through hell/He wore it in pain and he wore it well/Walking on fire he said no farewells/Was dead long before he turned the gun on himself.” He explains: “That’s a heavy subject matter, my folks were like, ‘You want to talk?’ But it was sort of a John Lennon thing, like reading the headlines for inspiration. I had the line and just proceeded to write. It was very difficult, and gut wrenching.”
Behind the scenes, Oliver works in a full partnership with keyboardist/songwriter Brett Levine. The two share in lyric and music writing, fluidly completing songs with egoless devotion to quality pop songcraft. “It’s like a chess game, I make a move on a song, go away, and come back to see what move he made,” Oliver describes. The duo also produced the album themselves, and were uncompromising in quality and emotional intent, crafting a meticulous multi-dimensional album that keeps surprising after multiple listens.
There is a real artistic purity to Oliver James’ Chasing The Sun, and it’s no surprise he cites the album’s creation as his career highlight. “The creative process has been great. We really spent the time to properly document each song,” Oliver says. The album was tracked at the Magic Shop in NYC (Coldplay, Norah Jones), mixed by two-time Grammy winner Trina Shoemaker (Iggy Pop, Queens Of The Stone Age), and mastered by Greg Calbi (Bob Dylan, Nick Cave). “We attended the mastering session. It was just amazing hearing the music on Calbi’s system. We were pinching ourselves watching his right foot tap to the music!”