James Michael Rodgers – Shame to be alive (CD/Ltd vinyl) - Alex Main

If Jeff Buckley was a child of the late fifties, and his talents were shaped by the halcyon days of the summer of love in the sixties, then his debut would have very likely sounded like that of ‘Shame to be Alive by James Michael Rodgers.

In a strange alternative universe we would currently be relaxing on a beach somewhere and asking for someone to turn it up a bit before we all sagely agreed that it was a certifiable classic; and the perfect soundtrack to chilling out in good company. Apart from a folky psychedelic vibe that is most certainly rooted in the sixties there’s also a nod in the direction of some of the seventies rock that existed before becoming a bloated dinosaur that punk had to kill.

The scorched earth approach too much of that took the good with the bad and it is somewhat refreshing to hear the good being revisited with some love and attention.
Regardless of the influences from decades ago this is however a release that sits comfortably in the present.

Good music that is well constructed and thoughtfully delivered never really goes out of fashion as it possesses an evergreen quality that most certainly resides in the grooves of this release. Transport James back or forward in time and he would fit into any era due to his magpie tendency of picking up the shiny best bits from everywhere to then use them to construct the songs that he writes and sings.

Listening to his album quite simply feels like being lovingly embraced by a large chunk of my personal record collection, and avid music fans will fundamentally understand what is meant by that.

Should I go as far as to call it a thing of beauty?
Why the hell not, because the proof is there for all to hear.

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