There is a familiarity about James Dunn’s voice - you’ve heard it before, but you haven’t. That unique quality seems to be the common thread that runs through his music and songs. Songs crafted in the true spirit of American rock, Dunn’s new album, “The Long Ride Home” marks his second recording release since 2006. ( “Lonely American Dream” released in 2006).
Dunn began writing songs a year or two after college, with no real musical background to speak of in regards to having ever played or written before that time. Baseball and school –well, sort of school, and all things sports took priority. But a long running interest in music, a vinyl copy of “Born to Run”, an old house record player, and his Grandfather’s encouragement along with an old steel guitar he passed down, collided and some songs started taking shape.
“I’m not really sure why I never took on music when I was younger”, says Dunn, “I always loved blasting my car stereo to the max with epic rock songs and singing along, but never thought of trying to play music myself. My favorite thing back then was heading to the baseball field with my Dad and/or watching and listening to anything that had to do with NC State basketball – that was my thing! But I can remember getting a copy of Springsteen’s “Born to Run” when I was in college and being mesmerized by the incredible songs and poetic words on that record. One of the things I liked was that static, scratchy sound of the old vinyl that filled the air along with the music, it was just so vintage sounding, like the perfect fitting leather jacket. I can remember sitting in my room thinking to myself, I want to BE one of the guys in these songs! It just sounded really grand and sort of like what I thought would be an ‘adventurous life’ where you would drive fast cars, get the girls, do all the right things, make a difference in the world and live happily ever after…I suppose that’s what a lot guys want to do, in a perfect world, right? So, a few years later, with that inspiration, I wanted to try my hand at a few songs. I ended up recording some acoustic demos of what I was writing , and I’ve made it to this point and I’m really excited about this new record. I think we’ve got a few good ones and I hope people will find some connection to the songs.”
Dunn was born in New Jersey and moved to North Carolina in his youth and since college has spent time living in Kentucky and Tennessee, while making a return to Raleigh, NC a few years ago. He wrote his first record, “Lonely American Dream” in an old upstairs apartment above an antique store in downtown Raleigh on Fairview Road. Of the album, Dunn says, “Yeah, that apartment just had tons of character – it’s streetside location, hidden door entrance off the road - it just sort of inspired creative thoughts and really was the driving force, so to speak, to move forward and actually record my music . I had a lot of things going on during that time and it seemed to flow out of the pen as song lyrics and that’s where that first record came from.”
For his new recording project, “The Long Ride Home”, Dunn headed to Nashville, Tennessee and TrueTone Recording Studio. “I had this notebook with a bunch of songs, ranging from stuff I had written quite a few years ago to songs I wrote very recently. I knew I wanted to try and take my sound and songs to the another level. I was fortunate to connect with some great musicians and producers who were genuinely excited about what I was trying to do with this new project. They had the same passion and vision and ideas about the musical ‘treatment’ to give the new tunes and I think there is really a little bit of something for everyone in regards to musical tastes among the 11 songs on this record.”
Since his first recording release, Dunn’s music has been featured on CMT with two of songs, “Lonely American Dream” and “The Oak Tree”, and was named by CMT as one of America’s top unsigned Americana artists. A strong local fan base and airplay on satellite radio and many of his hometown radio and TV stations has helped build his fan base, along with over many live shows since his first album.