Colin James: Down On The Bottom
Fluent guitar and soulful vocals shine on a convincing Bob Dylan cover.
By Kerry Doole
Colin James - Down On The Bottom (Stony Plain Records): The veteran and much-venerated blues-rocker will reach a major career milestone on Nov. 5. That is when Open Road, the 20th album of a long and illustrious career, will be released on top roots label Stony Plain.
This advance single and the accompanying video shows that James is aging well, physically and musically. The track showcases his fluent guitar and soulful vocals as he laments his current state - "down to the last drop in the cup, no place to go but up." He lets loose on his axe towards the end, suggesting a fighting spirit despite the situation. The song is actually a little-known Bob Dylan composition, dating back to his 1967 Basement Tapes period. Also of note: Down On The Bottom was mixed at Abbey Road Studio in London.
Rising to the challenge of making a record during a pandemic, James and his co-producer Dave Meszaros managed to set up three full band sessions in Vancouver for recording, and the rest was done remotely through pandemic lockdowns using studios on both sides of the Atlantic. In a label press release, James explains that “Dave was working in London, England, so our session times were all over the map. It’s phenomenal what technology allows you to do when you have to. My tendency is to write collaboratively, and there’s no substitute for the energy of everyone getting together in the same room.”
Word is that Open Road dips more into the Americana/blues/ roots categories. Original tunes were written with long time collaborators like Colin Linden, Craig Northey, and Tom Wilson, while covers are taken from Albert King, Tony Joe White and Otis Rush, as well as Dylan.
James has always been stylistically eclectic, with his work covering rock, blues, roots and swing (the popular Little Big Band). He remains popular in the streaming world, with over 655K weekly YouTube Channel Views, 167.5K monthly Spotify listeners, 9.7K monthly Pandora listeners and 5.8K fans on Deezer.
His trophy room is stuffed with gold and platinum albums, seven Juno Awards, and an astonishing 27 Maple Blues Awards, and he is both a Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame inductee (2014) and Western Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductee (2016). His previous album, 2018’s Miles To Go, won a Juno, confirming there's still plenty of life left in this road warrior.
Always a popular fixture on the blues touring circuit, James begins a tour of BC and Alberta at Chilliwack's Cultural Centre on Nov. 5, closing out at Blues At The Bow, Bow Island, AB, Nov. 23-24. Full itinerary here.
PR: Eric Alper
Management: Michelle Findlay- Macklam Feldman