I have a long history with Country music. Growing up in south Houston, we grew up around one of the largest rodeos in the country. Therefore, in our family van, if we weren’t listening to contemporary Christian radio we were definitely listening to country. Back then it was artist like Garth Brooks, Clint Black and Brooks and Dunn, etc.
Turn on the country radio these days, and you will hear a very different type of country. Not bad in my opinion (others disagree), but not the same as my country roots.
The new country is almost too mixed with Pop and Rock (and shall I say even rap) to be recognized as truly classic country. Therefore, when I met James and heard about his vision to put out a new sounding classic country song, I really resonated with that.
SONGWRITING IS THE KEY //
I work with a lot of different clients, and I even write songs myself. What I keep coming back to over and over again is that a good song starts with good songwriting. It’s just true.
Since this first single, James and I have been working on more of his music, and with each song I keep thinking, “wow, this guy can really write some great songs.”
In country music, I think more so than other genres, each song tells a story. From verse one to the final chorus, the story unfolds and connects all the way through. James lives and breathes that framework and every song has a consistent flow.
James’ songwriting skills really came alive when I created his chord/lyric sheet. That is something I do for most of my clients. It helps us all know how the song is laid out. The artist can take it after our project is done and it is an helpful thing to have if it is needed in the future (like submitting for a copyright). So with every chord/lyric sheet I create for James the more I’m impressed with his songwriting skills.
PRODUCER // AKA THE COACH
James has a group of guys that he plays with often, including electric guitarist David Gan. David, in particular, has incredible country chops and really makes up a big part of James’ sound.
I’m a musician first before I’m a producer or engineer, so I’ve been very impressed with David’s work on this single.
James has a very particular vision for each song we work on, and I feel like my job was just to give him the options for him to say yes or no to.
James, David, and I would sit in the studio together playing with different drum beats, and James would give me approval once we started finding things he liked. Same thing when bassist Travis LeBanc came in. I gave a little direction and helped get the best performance possible. Often times as a producer, I feel like a music coach, just helping and guiding the musicians along. James knows what he likes, and I’m glad we were able to achieve that in this first song.
VOCALS // DEEP AND STRONG
James has a very deep, Johnny Cash type voice. I really tried to find the right EQ on his voice that would draw out and emphasize the unique characteristics of his voice. On this particular song, James had been singing through a harmonizer pedal live, and he decided to bring it into the studio. We added it to the intro of the song and during the chorus’ to give it a unique quality.
MUSIC // OPPORTUNITIES //
James released this song, and not soon after, he was on his way to take his single to the local Conroe radio station. He talked to the local DJ there and submitted his song in a competition.
The song later aired on local radio.
David later talked about that moment of people commenting about this new song all the while not knowing it was David and James’ band. Pretty cool moment to know the work we did was standing up in the market. It is a testimony, I believe, to the strong songwriting and staying true to James’ roots.
MORE CLASSIC - NEW COUNTRY TO COME //
Because of this first single (the first recorded song James has ever released), there has a been a lot of local buzz. Everywhere he plays, he’s hearing really great things. Because of all of the positive feedback and opportunity he has gotten from that one song, James has come back to One Fifty, and we are currently working on a full length project soon to released.
You never know what one piece of music, one song, can do for you, and I’m excited to see James grow and mature over time. It is cool to partner with him, and I hope that he has a lot of success.
The songs come from his life and are real and authentic to who he is.
You can check out James' website over at www.JamesGarlandMusic.com.
You can stream "My Next Mistake" from there or you can find it on iTunes and all other digital stores.
If you like classic country with a modern sound, you will love James Garland music.