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Album Review

Although Los Angeles singer/songwriter Samantha James claims 1980s cocktail-pop singers Sade and Basia as two of her primary influences, her debut album, Rise, sounds as if her true heart lies in that period in the mid-'90s when those singers' contemporaries Everything But the Girl lost their taste for twee U.K. indie guitar pop and jazzy torch songs and transformed themselves into a downtempo electronica act. It was a transformation that worked surprisingly well, not least because Tracey Thorn's smoky, wine-dark vocals and Ben Watt's knack for languid minor-key melodies both suited the style unexpectedly well. Samantha James is no Tracey Thorn, and her songwriting and production partner Sebastian Arocha Morton is no Ben Watt, but albums like Walking Wounded are no embarrassment as musical touchstones, and James doesn't embarrass herself in her re-creation of the style. The best songs, like the dreamy "Enchanted Life," the lushly tropical "Rain," and the bossa nova-influenced "I Found You," a duet with Celso Fonseca, are those that leave the dancefloor in favor of those dark, intimate banquettes in the quiet corners, where James' honeyed voice and the duo's fondness for mellow late-night atmospheres are best suited. On the more overtly dance-oriented tracks, like "Breathe You In" and "Living Without You," James sounds like just another anonymous dance club diva, and the '80s-throwback rhythm boxes don't help her cause.

Customer Reviews

deep, evocative, sentimental house

OM Records are not strangers to the EDM scene, more specifically the house scene, however their latest trend with Miguel Migs "Those Things" and Samantha James' "Rise" reminds us that they are not at all novices in the field. This album fits the soothing sounds of Naked Music constituents Lisa Shaw, Aya, and Gaelle.. It is quite a pleasure to hear Samantha James' beautiful voice loom over these deep house anthems. "Angel Love" is a favorite, holding true to the house standard, with the more electronic "Living Without You" sticking out as well and the simplicity of "Deep Surprise". While it is only a matter of time that the trashy techno remixes come of these tracks for Abercrombie play, these originals are made of gold. It is no wonder the producers of the album went with these sounds as opposing labels have proven its success with such artists as Kaskade and Late Night Alumni. Another smart album, with smart rythmic house tracks and an even smarter lyric. Get it, you won't be disappointed.

Smart. Smooth. Sexy.

Samantha James has been compared to Sade, Weekend Players, Tracy Thorn and I have to agree, her talent is top notch. "Rise" and "Angel Love" have got to be some of the strongest tracks of 2007.

Mind Blowing:

Definitely the best album since the latest release by Blue Six. I alway thought that her full release would be great but this album is unbelievable. It is so hard to find a record that you can play all the way through without constantly skipping songs. All I can say is that you must sit back and enjoy such a wonderful artist. It wouldn't hurt to make sure that your stereo is turned up a bit to capture some of the wonderful musical sounds to go with a lovely voice. Spread the word about the underground sound and the many great underground artist. Maurice. B. OHIO

Biography

Born: 1983 in Los Angeles, CA

Genre: Dance

Years Active: '00s

Dance-pop singer Samantha James is inspired less by the R&B divas one would expect in her chosen style of music than by a subtler breed of 1980s singers influenced by vintage cocktail jazz and bossa nova, such as Basia, Sade, and Tracey Thorn of Everything But the Girl, as well as contemporaries working in the same general style such as Bebel Gilberto or Miho Hatori of Smokey & Miho. Born and raised in Los Angeles, James is the granddaughter of the late David Rose, the orchestra leader and...
Full Bio
Rise, Samantha James
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