Arts & Entertainment

Off Track: Joshua James: The Basement Bard

 

Josh JamesMySpace musicians will be eager to hear the tale of buzzy, Nebraskan songwriter Joshua James, whose whisper-soft vocals and lyrical acumen landed him a recording deal from the comfort of his basement.

“I used a microphone and a little mixer,” James says of the setup he used to post his first compositions to the online community site frequented by musicians and music enthusiasts alike. “This guy from L.A. found my music, called me up and said he'd love to do some recording. I was skeptical because I didn't know what he expected of me. I'd never recorded a full-length record before.”

In fact, the path to his profession as a songwriter was indirect itself. James first started singing after returning from two years in Venezuela where he did religious work. Moved by the turbulent times surrounding the county's embattled leader Hugo Chavez, James began crafting songs about his experiences in South America, as well as his memories growing up with his brothers.

“I never sang growing up,” says James, whose soft-toned voice reminds of more ballyhooed bards like Joshua Radin and Sam Beam, of Iron & Wine fame. “When I started, this voice is just what came out.”

James is making the most of his talents, touring with John Mayer and Brett Dennen for a while and now linked up with Erin McKeown for a series of shows that swings by the Birchmere this Saturday, Oct. 6. He'll head back into the studio to start work on a new album this December.

James says listeners can expect something “with a little more rock and roll on it,” compared to his rookie release The Sun Is Always Brighter. Fans ought to be able to get a flavor at his live shows, however.

“We're more up tempo and play some songs not on the record,” James says. “I think people will be surprised.”

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