South African country music icon, Lance James, has released a career-defining album that’s set to earn him new fans and provide a powerful reminder to his longstanding followers of his unmatched musical prowess.
Titled Swan Song, the 14-track album takes in nearly 100 years of songwriting, starting with “Trouble Will Soon Be Over”, written in 1927 by Blind Willie Johnson, and moving through to Toby Keith’s “Don’t Let The Old Man In” which was written in 2018 for the Clint Eastwood movie, The Mule. Along the way, this landmark album moves through classic rock, Americana, blues, pop and, of course, the country music that has defined James’ solo career since the release of Please Come To My Party in 1961.
“Don’t Let The Old Man In” is the first single off Swan Song – and, on its release in April, it gave notice of the breathtaking producing and superb song choice that define James’ latest release. In the contributions of Jason Bradley (guitar and vocal), Sez Adamson (pedal steel) and Matthew Fink (keyboards) the song also provides a window into one of Swan Song’s central features – an array of worldclass players and guest vocalists who didn’t hesitate when asked be part of James’ latest record. These include Cito (Wonderboom), Cindy Alter, Martin Rocka (Wonderboom, Martin Rocka and The Sick Shop), Blackie Swart, Nianell, Salva Zaca, Elizma Theron and Liza Brönner.
An unexpected – and standout – contribution comes from The Mahotella Queens on a moving version of “Trouble Will Soon Be Over” that brings together two iconic South African artists for the first time. “Witnessing The Mahotella Queen’s incredible gifts in the studio brought me to tears,” admits James. Another highlight is a sparse reimagining of Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters” which poignantly brings home the emotion threaded through the hard rock song – and, indeed, the whole album.
The centrepiece of “Nothing Else Matters” is a stunning one-take vocal that sees James’ almost speaking the lyrics – and it’s his richly resonant voice that takes the spotlight throughout Swan Song. From country-infused tracks like “The Glory of Love”, “As Long as I Live” and “The Pain of Loving You” to a heartfelt tip-of-the-hat to James’ peers in an elegant take on The Staccato’s version of Solomon Burke’s “Cry To Me”, the album is worthy of James’ 60-year artistic career – and more than eight decades of journeying through life’s ups and downs (James turns 81 on July 18th this year).
This marked leap forward in song choice, style and production stems directly from James’ inspired collaboration with the creative team of record producers, Matthew Fink and Benjy Mudie, and executive producer, Charles Kühn – whose Just Music is releasing the album.
“Recording Swan Song has been one of the most uplifting experiences of my career,” concludes James. “It’s been nothing short of a labour of love and is a work of supreme craftsmanship, with the four of us constructing the songs in what I can only describe as a truly wonderful way.” a last resort in protecting other Artists within the label and the reputation of its Employees…”
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