Chicago’s Angela James‘ premier album is called “Way Down Deep”. That’s how far it reaches into your soul. This album sounds like light dancing around the rocks and weeds at the bottom of a lake. It’s brilliant and shadowy. James’ voice reaches, soars, and dips. It ranges from navy to amber in hue and always sounds familiar. There is a lot going on here in these simple songs. There are jazz influences, soulful lyrics. “Salt Town” starts off with some trombone, trumpet, saxophone, and clarinet all trying to speak over each other. The title track is one of my favorites. James’ round, golden voice tells a mournful, soulful, gorgeous, glowing story of love and heartbreak. It just begs you to close your eyes and let that plunging, pacing voice fill you up with light and darkness. Something about it vibrates inside of you. Love it. I would love an entire acapella album from this lady. “All I Need” is another gorgeous, melody with soaring, rippling vocals and a very simple instrumental backdrop. If you are going to try out one song on this album–this is the one. It might make you cry. “Dirty Moon” is a wonderful, jazzy love ballad. This time, the singer has the upper hand. It sounds like the kind of song a flirty lady in a 1920’s speakeasy would sing when invited on stage by a crowd of adoring and semi-drunken gentlemen. When she leaves, they all swear they are in love with her.
If you like Chicago, the 1920’s, Dolly Parton, summer afternoons at the lake, silver jewelry, walking through the woods, wearing nice clothes for menial daily activities, evenings out on the town, or if you feel like you should have been born in another time–definitely give Angela James a listen. She’s fantastic, has a voice that really makes you feel something.