Vanja James could become the next big female singer/songwriter. Her self-released, self-titled debut album is a powerful composition of pop-rock and indie ballads that are instantly pleasing. James’ powerful vocals are backed beautifully by a diverse cast of musicians on her promising debut.
The album opens with the fast-paced, acoustic guitar driven pop-rock of “On Your Own.” The song has a simple, but fun pop rhythm. It has a stripped down sound that really allows James’ vocals to come through. James has a voice that will remind of you of other singers like Sara Bareilles or Alicia Keys.
“Craptastic” and “The Bayou” share the same light-hearted, fun pop-rock sound that “On Your Own” has. These songs would be right at home on pop radio.
While James can definitely write a successful pop song, she also shows a great deal of diversity on the album.
“August” is a fantastic indie rock song that plays with Appalachian melodies on harmonica. It’s definitely a uniquely composed song that later cuts loose with a horn line. Likewise, “Mouthful” shares the same country-rock feel as “August” by using smartly crafted slide guitar.
At other points on the album, James writes heart breaking songs like “To The Man” and “Beautiful Mess” that use delicate arrangements of guitar, strings and piano. On these songs, James establishes herself as a fantastic singer and truly shows how promising she is.
James continues to surprise you with diverse songs throughout her album. The piano filled, jazz influenced “Deal With The Devil” sounds unlike any other song on the CD. However, James sounds right in her comfort zone with the song.
Late in the album, James even proves she can do straight-up, electric guitar fueled rock with “War Song.”
Vanja James delivers an incredibly talented debut. Her ability to succeed in a variety of styles is refreshing. James is definitely an artist to keep your eye on.
January 7, 2009