There is no doubt that Galen James can sing. Actually, he’s an incredibly talented musician. His latest album called “Big Blue Mixtape” is a deep dive into a fusion of Pop, R&B, Jazz, Rock, and even a little Reggae. The prolific album with 20 tracks includes a compilation of his previous albums “How To Find You” and “Love & Bad News” – a compendium you might say.
Given more than a nod from the reputable Downbeat Magazine, with up to 5 Downbeat awards, Galen has been a studious pupil learning from the Jazz greats he’s played with, such as Kurt Elling, Bobby McFerrin, Chick Corea, Johnny Mathis, and Darmon Meader. In listening to the “Big Blue Mixtape,” it’s evident that Galen has taken those lessons to heart. The jazz influence is unmistakably present in literally every track.
Originally raised in the sleepy tree-lined streets of Mid-western Ann Habor, Michigan in an artistic family, Galen James has now found a home in the southern plains of the live music capital, Austin, Texas. He found his calling through the encouragement of a supportive mother, and the Gammy Award winning choir director at his high school, Richard Ingram.
Without much prodding Galen James attended Western Michigan University, to study at their prestigious music & jazz program. He would focus on voice, piano, guitar, composition, and arrangement. As well as, sing in the program’s renowned vocal jazz ensemble.
All of which hints at the beginnings of how Galen James acquired the breathe and depth of the musical components he brings together in his music. There is the jazzy brass components, there’s the ever present RnB melodies, and of course there is the pop main staple. Often enough, the rock sips in. All coming together neatly, without any loose ends.
Several of the tracks in “Big Blue Mixtape” come alive with the very raw sounding horn sections and drums. This is because, Galen James insisted on recording them live.
In an album as prolific and ambitious as the “Big Blue Mixtape,” there’s bound to be a fair amount of dark horses, white knights, and red herrings. Let’s take a quick look at some of them to give a sense of the album.
The pensive track, “Stars” adds a piano melody that enhances the mood the song conveys, which is a desperate loneliness. But within it, contains a juxtaposition of a lively drum and horn section along with the melancholy. Making it very not boring.
“Body Karate“ is a sweet ode to a sweetheart. It features a very lively and fun guitar riff that smoothens the ride for Galen’s voice to glide upon.
In “The Other Me,” Galen expands his repertoire into reggae. And, it’s pretty good, too. In here we found out that L.A, as in the city, stands for ‘Lonely A**hole’! So, it seems Galen has a pretty decent dry sense of humor.
“Yes,” is another melancholy ballad. But, again his ballads aren’t just a plunge into the abysses of emotions, but are more like gasps of emotions.
“Night Music“ is fun and optimistic, right from the very first note. The song is sort of a narrative of a Saturday night well spent.
“Without A Care” is a soft ballad. It’s gentle and almost peaceful. The lyrics also come across as heartfelt and sincere. There’s no sign of that desperation that can at times show up when Galen does a slow track.
Most of his content is about love, not always sad, at times actually optimistic like in “Bird.”
The album “Love & Bad News” released in 2014 comprises of “Night Music”, “Wrong Turns,” “Take You There,” “What I’d Do,” “The Hard Way,” “Yes,” “Love & Bad News,” “Without a Care,” “Explicit,” “Body Karate,” and “Stars.”
“How To Find You,” is Galen James’s first album released under the name of his band, “Compendium.” It was released in 2008, and includes “How To Find You,” “Bird,” “If You Feel You,” “African,” and “I Wish You Well.”
To download and stream “Big Blue Mixtape,” and learn more about Galen James, see the links below:
Buy the album: https://galen.bandcamp.com/alb
Find him on Twitter: https://twitter.com/GalenJames
Find him on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GalenMusic/
Find him on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/GalenMusicTV
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