Joshua James live at Rough Trade East
Giving an emotional, driven performance live at Rough Trade East, folk singer Joshua James performed songs from his new album From the Top of Willamette Mountain, as well as a couple of songs from previous records and unrecorded material.
Focussing just on the music as he “doesn’t like to talk much on stage”, every song featured a story and a raw, country attitude. From Lincoln, Nebraska, Joshua James had his close friends to accompany him during the live show, adding a heavy rock element to his live performances of his recordings.
Playing the catchy Queen of The City second in the set James never lacked any confidence during the gig, stealing the spotlight from the band with his hoarse and memorable voice. This song in particular worked very well as it kept the clarity heard on the record – proving Joshua James to be a very skilful live performer.
Rarely introducing the songs, Joshua James played song after song with heart-felt charisma, only twice talking about the background of what inspired him to write the song.
Sentimentality is a key component of his music – songs about kidnappings, the difficulty of communication to distant relatives, substance abuse and other of difficult life challenges feature in his songs, making him comparable to folk legends Bob Dylan or Neil Young. Songs on the new album such as Mystic and Ghost in The Town help listeners draw these complimentary comparisons.
Ending with a song that isn’t featured on the new record, Joshua James’ vocals became more powerful during the build ups and crescendos decorated by electric guitars, starting slow and ending dominantly, this song was close to his heart as it was about one of his many siblings who wrote him letters when none of his other relatives would.
Matt Di Salvo
Visit his website to order the new album.
Watch Joshua James performing Ghost in The Town live: