About Jeffrey James
A Nashville-based artist graced with uncommonly rich and captivating vocals, Jeffrey James channels his raw talent into a groove-heavy R&B/alt-pop hybrid built on pure emotion. With his music already featured on major TV shows like Nashville, James is set to deliver a new batch of songs showcasing a sensibility that’s emotionally charged and indelibly melodic.
Born and bred in Brownsburg, Indiana, James grew up singing in the school choir and—at age ten—learned to play guitar with the help of the Hal Leonard Guitar Method books his own great uncle had authored. In high school he joined up with a local alt-rock band, then tried his hand at songwriting for the first time and quickly fell in love with the craft. While majoring in music at Nashville’s Belmont University, James delved deeper into songwriting and immersed himself in the city’s singer/songwriter scene. “I played every writers round I could, testing out songs and getting a feel for what was connecting with people,” he says. “And then when I graduated I started playing a lot of colleges, just grabbing my acoustic guitar and driving up to somewhere in North Dakota or wherever else they’d let me perform.”
As he developed his sound, James drew inspiration from artists like Joe Cocker and explored the depths of his warm and powerful voice. “My music is very soul-driven, and while I do realize the irony of an Indiana boy making soul music, my voice has always fit that groove,” he notes. Independently releasing the EPs Make Your Way to the Flashing Lights in 2012 and I’m Wide Awake in 2014, James soon saw his songs placed on shows like Nashville, Criminal Minds, and MTV’s Finding Carter. In summer 2015 he brought his gripping live performance to festivals like Forecastle and Firefly, and in September landed a publishing/licensing deal with Sony/ATV Music Publishing.
In bringing his latest selection of songs to life, James teamed up with producer Konrad Snyder (Kopecky, Milo Greene, Night Beds) to dream up a slow-burning sound that brilliantly plays off his unflinchingly honest lyrics. The smooth and smoldering lead single “Good Friends,” for instance, reflects on a relationship wherein “we’re both just using each other to ignore all the other problems going on in our lives,” as James explains. Meanwhile, “Waiting for the Breakdown” elegantly captures the pain of emotional disconnection and emerges as what James calls “a breakup song where two people have gone through the entire relationship without ever really being honest with each other.”
Over the past year, James has expanded his musical palette with such endeavors as the ‘50s-rock-and-roll-styled twist on One Direction’s “Steal My Girl” that he created for Postmodern Jukebox in early 2015, ultimately racking up more than a million YouTube views. Most recently, he’s also begun collaborating with EDM artists from around the world, lending his vocals and melodic finesse to tracks like “Loving You More” from Dutch producer/DJ Saux (a summer 2015 release that Dancing Astronaut hailed as “tranquil house meets soulful crooning”). But no matter which genre he’s working in, James first and foremost aims for emotional candor in his songwriting and performance. “The more uncomfortably honest I can be with myself, the better the song turns out,” he says. “Coming from that place of honesty is the best way to make a real connection with people, and building those kinds of connections is the most important thing to me in making music.”