International singer-songwriter James Keen has garnered global acclaim with his evocative and universally relatable music. Crossing genre boundaries and incorporating elements of pop, rock, R&B, funk, and folk, he skilfully amalgamates diverse sounds, creating compositions that resonate deeply with audiences worldwide.
James invites listeners on a transcendent sonic journey that defies temporal and spatial limitations. His soulful vocals, virtuosic guitar playing, and poignant songwriting forge intimate connections with his listeners. Drawing comparisons to the remarkable Tracy Chapman, he effortlessly weaves melodic storytelling into his songs, infusing them with passion and vulnerability.
His latest solo album, “Crossover,” stands as his most compelling work to date—a culmination of a lifetime dedicated to the pursuit of the perfect song. Meticulously crafted with unwavering attention to detail, this album harks back to an era when songwriters were revered as master composers and lyricists who spun captivating narratives.
Born in Australia but raised in Hong Kong and London, James possesses a global perspective on music. His formative listening experience of Paul Simon’s seminal album “Graceland” introduced him to international influences that would later shape his distinctive sound. The virtuosity of guitarists like Mark Knopfler, David Gilmour, and Eric Clapton left an indelible mark on his playing, while the timeless records of Neil Young and Bob Dylan guided James toward a confessional, poetic style that permeates his repertoire.
Beginning his musical journey as a mainstay on London’s acoustic circuit, James honed his craft and eventually released his debut solo record, “No Coincidence,” in 2007. This achievement led to the formation of the highly regarded pop-soul band Magazine Gap, known for their critically acclaimed albums “Light & Shade” and “What’s That About?”. They extensively toured Europe, the United States, and the Far East, amassing a devoted following along the way.
The pandemic-induced lockdowns granted James the gift of isolation and time, allowing him to explore new artistic horizons. As a producer and multi-instrumentalist, he pushed the boundaries of his creativity, resulting in the extraordinary album “Crossover.” Starting with piano, acoustic guitar, and vocal arrangements, James expanded each song into fully realized home studio productions, crafting a deeply personal solo album.
From the vibrant pop-rock hues of “Show Me What You Got” and “Yes & No” to the electrifying rock anthem “Minutes to Midnight”, from the R&B-infused groove of “Compromise” to the infectious funk-pop vibes of “Glow in the Dark”, and the introspective folk stylings of “The Ballad of Abraham Jones,” each track unveils a new facet of James’ ever-evolving artistry. Notably, two songs, “Falling or Flying” and “On This Rock”, were finalists in the esteemed International Acoustic Music Awards. James’ commanding and textured vocals, coupled with captivating guitar solos, offer a soothing respite after the introspective introspection found within his songwriting.
James consistently follows his own muse and stays true to his artistic vision, never compromising his integrity by chasing fleeting trends. Consequently, his profoundly human and meaningful songs have forged genuine connections with fans, firmly establishing him as a singular artist.
An 11-track musical odyssey, “Crossover” showcases the mastery of a musician at the pinnacle of his craft, presenting an array of textures that captivate the listener’s senses.
[Written by Jay B]
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