James House: Berwick Street

review house x1 cong

We thought House was a young up and coming singer, but it turns out he’s 62 and a veteran, writing both country and western: he co-wrote Grammy-nominated country song of the year Ain’t That Lonely Yet for Dwight Yoakum and A Broken Wing for Martina McBride, as well as Diamond Rio’s number one In a Week Or Two. Other people to record his songs include Tina Turner, Olivia Newton John, Rod Stewart and Rita Coolidge. He’s recently been writing with Joe Bonamassa.

We think it’s safe to say he’s had a successful career and probably doesn’t need to do what he did, which is decamp from sunny, laidback Nashville to London, where he rented a loft on Berwick Street. Six of the songs were written with Julie Beth Horton, from Bewdley, while his band is from Liverpool (Adrian Gautrey on guitar and C3 organ, Joel Goldberg on bass, Adam Goldberg on drums).

First thing is, you wouldn’t guess any of that from the album. It doesn’t sound country, it doesn’t sound like the work of a grizzled old veteran (though he doesn’t look grizzled) and it certainly don’t sound like no vanity project. He comes over as a young singer/songwriter; it’s an accomplished set of songs it’s true but it sounds fresh and youthful.

It took us several plays to get into it. It’s low key and gentle and its subtle charms — and it does have them — take some time to appreciate. He doesn’t have a strong voice, but he has soul and feeling, and writes songs to suit that.

Fans of crafted, gentle indie alt pop will like this a lot. Try the perky In Your Life or Love Can’t Control.

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