Driving Toward the Sun by Susan James on Apple Music

8 Songs

EDITORS’ NOTES

Had Susan James kept up her early momentum and not taken years off to raise her child, her name might be mentioned in the same breath as many other front-line alt-country singer/songwriters. Her talent is definitely there. Here, producer Ryan Ulyate (Tom Petty, ELO) stacks up the backing band with legendary drummer Don Heffington (Buddy Miller, Jayhawks), guitarist Neal Casal (Ryan Adams), and pedal steel man Eric Heywood (Son Volt, Richard Buckner) and lets James roll. Right from the sunlight in the hotel room of the opening title track, the journey to pick apart a relationship begins. Of course, the relationship is just a symbol of a greater self-analysis. "U-Haul in the Driveway" keeps an upbeat groove and a sunny melody, but the lyrics are pure devastation: "Goodbye to the two young dreamers/I'll curse this day for all my life." The travels lead to some reconciliations and a sense of hope in the soothing sound of "Mission Bells," beautifully supported by Heywood's warm, atmospheric pedal steel.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Had Susan James kept up her early momentum and not taken years off to raise her child, her name might be mentioned in the same breath as many other front-line alt-country singer/songwriters. Her talent is definitely there. Here, producer Ryan Ulyate (Tom Petty, ELO) stacks up the backing band with legendary drummer Don Heffington (Buddy Miller, Jayhawks), guitarist Neal Casal (Ryan Adams), and pedal steel man Eric Heywood (Son Volt, Richard Buckner) and lets James roll. Right from the sunlight in the hotel room of the opening title track, the journey to pick apart a relationship begins. Of course, the relationship is just a symbol of a greater self-analysis. "U-Haul in the Driveway" keeps an upbeat groove and a sunny melody, but the lyrics are pure devastation: "Goodbye to the two young dreamers/I'll curse this day for all my life." The travels lead to some reconciliations and a sense of hope in the soothing sound of "Mission Bells," beautifully supported by Heywood's warm, atmospheric pedal steel.

TITLE TIME
3:56
3:15
4:47
4:14
3:15
4:31
4:08
3:47

About Susan James

According to legend, Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Computers, saw Susan James playing in a club and asked if she had any recordings for sale. When she said no, he returned to her next performance and handed her 10,000 dollars to make a demo tape. Whether that's true or merely a fanciful invention for a press release, it's likely that the Orange County-based James is the only musician to play with both the Grateful Dead's Bob Weir and the Replacements' Tommy Stinson.

James, a skilled guitarist with a degree in ethnomusicology from U.C.L.A. in addition to being a fine singer/songwriter, released her first album, 1996's Shocking Pink Banana Seat, on the indie Red Letter Records. Her follow-up, Fantastic Voyage, was an intriguing experiment pairing one CD of vocal songs with another disc of guitar-based instrumentals built on drum loops from the vocal songs. ~ Stewart Mason

Top Songs by Susan James

Top Albums by Susan James