Hurts so good The closest he comes to radio pop is “Magazine,” which is musically light but lyrically heavy. In fact, all his lyrics are weighty: James fills songs with images of burning boats and burning letters, blood on the floor, deep incisions and cancer. He delivers in a raspy voice that sounds wounded at all the right times (like on the tragic “Lawn Full Of Marigolds” when he sings, “To my ma I’ve failed you / To my pa I blamed you / And to God I have shamed you again”).
Joshua James’s first album, The Sun Is Always Brighter, while frequently lovely, ran the risk at times of disappearing into the oceanic whisper of other breathy male singer-songwriter product. Many of the songs had a gloriously dark edge, but the arrangements were too pretty for the bitter pills to take effect. The harder edge of the songs on Build Me This should ensure that James’s dark tales send their messages more effectively.