Friday, July 9, 2010

A Deep Surprise

Her music drops slowly into your soul. With ripples of rhythm flowing towards the listener song by song, word by word, Samantha James has found her sound by mixing waves of lounge with sprinkles of electronica, making one of the most surreal, yet mesmerizing albums of the past ten years. Solely by listening to the artists latest LP, Subconscious, one cannot help but let the luscious lyrics, vivacious vocals and mellow melodies dive deep into your subconscious.

James may know how to hypnotize her audience, but the only thing now is for the world to catch onto one of the greatest artists of the past decade. After a #1 single on the Billboard dance charts with “Rise,” James released her debut album of the same name. While sales were soft, the quality of her debut matches that of legends.

With Subconsious, James continues her legacy of the Queen of Lounge and one of the few artists out there who can take what is conventionally background music and put pure heart into it, bringing it to life.

On “Veil,” the LP’s strongest song, James tells the listener to lift their own veils and see the world for what it is: a light that shines over all of us. “Veil” has James in the area where she does it best: lounge. Perfect for that drive at sunset or along with that delicious cosmopolian. The song explodes with euphoric rhythms that put the listener in a trance, but even though this track is one of the most flavorful, it’s just a taste of things to come.

Mirror mirror on the wall, which song is the most single-worthy of all? The answer is “Find a Way” perhaps James’ most gorgeous song so far. Everything about the track, from the melody, to the vocal delivery has the familiar scent of Sade. The calming song puts the mind at ease and allows the listener to journey through the emotion of James as if they were floating through rose-scented air.

James flows most freely on “Free,” the most urban-flavored of the bunch, shows James tip-toe into the world of electro-jazz. Perhaps one of the LPs most candid track that shows the reality of the protagonists pain and wishes. One the other side, the title track makes for some fluffy fun on the dance floor. But even for a song about a topic as trite as a club hook-up, the songwriter likens the occurrence to something that touches her soul and dances through the most hidden areas of her mind. Another dance track, “Waves of Change,” the album’s first single, crashes onto the dance floor with some of the best remixes of the year done by Kaskade.

One of Rise’s most memorable moments was “Right Now” a simple chill track with minimal vocals and an amazing musical production. The sequel, “Life is Waiting” follows the same musical road with similar success. Think of it like the older sister of “Right Now,” with even more production. The simplicity of “Right Now” made it a chill classic, and while “Life is Waiting” holds the same future in its hands, one cannot help but compare the two.

James doesn’t always reach pure perfection. “Tonight” would make for a nice club track except for the inclusion of guest vocalist JB Eckl, whose vocal talents fail to mess with the suave diva. “Illusions” starts off nicely, but that ends up to be an illusion itself. The song sounds like an awkward mix of sounds and lyrics the singer has previously done. Even so, in the rare instances when the album drops, the quality is still above 99.9% of music out there today.

Pushing forward and upward, “Satellites” sees James venture into acoustic-touched electronica with sweet success. “Maybe Tomorrow” goes through the glowing motions of loungy-pop, and “Amber Sky” drops with the soft, sweet sounds of electronic-pop to the poetic lyrics of James yearning for the girl of her past. “Tree of Life” at first, seems to have been sprouted in the same vein as Rise’s “Come Through," but the song does grow on you eventually on its own ground.

The final page of the album, “Again and Again” marks the first released Samantha James track with no electronic elements to it at all. Nothing but pure piano, the haunting closer shows the most sensitive side of the singer.

As the LP makes its way deeper into your subconscious, feelings of beauty and love takes over in a way that no other album could make you feel, and with that, Samantha James has become a success. Perhaps not a success with sales, but James has found her niche for her sound and her message that transcends all fads and breaks through the musical barriers to make her mark. Like the word itself, it is impossible to define the album Subconscious precisely, but perhaps that’s the genius behind Samantha James.

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