By Annie Bohling
March 31, 2017
Friendly, chatty, humble – it’s obvious through a phone conversation with musician Joshua James that he grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska.
James will return to his hometown Friday, March 31, for a show at The Zoo Bar. The show will kick off his spring tour debuting his new album, “My Spirit Sister,” set to release April 7.
“Great and nostalgic and happy and sad and melancholic,” James said of coming back to Lincoln. “Many, many emotions. Just probably because it’s the first show of the tour and leaving home is always bittersweet. Happy and sad. Sappy.”
James started writing music in 2004 or 2005, he said, when he moved to Utah to attend a university. Since then, he’s had two children and now six musical releases.
With three bandmates, James writes and performs Americana and neo folk music. Somewhat ironically, he lives in a small town called American Fork, south of Salt Lake City.
The only song released from “My Spirit Sister” is called “Millie,” named and written for his baby girl.
“That one is especially emotionally charged for me,” he said.
But all of the songs on the album are near to James’ heart.
“The album is somewhat thematic in that it deals with questions of the wandering heart and the kind of reassessing the whole concept of what relationships and love entail as you grow older,” James said. “Not necessarily questioning what a relationship or marriage or love is, but just assessing it and posing questions throughout song and making statements through song.”
“My Spirit Sister” differs from past releases in its exploration of romantic relationships and in that it was recorded at his studio.
“It’s easier to create music with people that you enjoy to be around,” James said of the recording process with his friends (partnering musicians). “It was a lot of us hanging out at the studio and ideas would come and we would track it.”
The initial writing of songs is not the hardest part of the process, James said.
“It’s trying to create different structures that are appealing to other people,” he said. “It’s the post-writing that’s the hardest. We wrote quite a few songs for the record. We picked the ones that seem to fit together the best.”
James’ music is airy, clean and enticing – classic Americana blended with modern and electric twists. His general style and voice stands out next to comparable musicians (Sufjan Stevens comes to mind). His refreshingly unique voice meshes perfectly with accompanying strung out electric riffs and sludgy drumming and tambourine clicks found throughout the 2013 release of “Well, Then, I’ll Go to Hell,” for example.\
“My Spirit Sister” is available for preorder on the Joshua James website. His past music is available to stream and purchase via his
Learn more about the show on the Facebook event page.
Annie Bohling is one of KZUM’s tireless interns.