The Good Life
by Rhetta Akamatsu
Seth James has a new album, The Good Life, and it brims with honesty and an overall positive vibe.
James was born in Foth Worth, Texas, and grew up on a ranch. He looks like the cowboy he is, but he grew up listening to guys he later shared a stage with, like Percy Sledge, Delbert McClinton, and ZZ Top. You can definitely hear rock, country and soul influences on this album, all fused with the blues.
The first song, “Brother,” is pure blues-rock, with a rocking honky-tonk piano and some really solid advice about the importance of friendship. The nest one is a cheerful strut about working hard for what you want. It leads us to the title track, “The Good Life,” with a country-soul feel about learning what it takes to be happy.
“Little Angel” is a sweet, sweet love song, on which you can strongly hear the Percy Sledge influence. It is a real stand-out track. Next, “Ain’t What You Eat But How You Chew It,” is about finally learning to get over a bad romance. It is followed by a slow, soulful blues about starting over, “From Way Behind.”
Then “The Time I Love You The Most,” is a familiar lesson about how you sometimes have to lose in order to know what you had. It has a very vintage blues-rock sound, similar to early Clapton.
“I’m Coming Home” returns to that soul sound, with great organ enhancing the emotion and fantastic background singers. “Get Outside” celebrates the healing powers of nature, appropriate advice from a man who grew up in wide-open spaces. Then “Medicine Men” picks up the pace again to tell us “You can’t get something for nothing,” the theme of this album as a whole.
One song that breaks the cheerful feeling of this album is the true but bitter “Third Generation,” aimed at those people who are born to wealth and lose it all through their own lack of effort. It’s a powerful song, which is followed by the pure acoustic blues os “I Am The Storm,” a compelling nod to the forces of nature.
Seth James says a lot in this album of original songs, two of which were co-written with Kevin McKendree, who also produced and mixed the album (“The Good Life,” also with Bob Britt, and “I’m Coming Home.”) With the exception of the last two, which are impressive in their own way, they talk about life lessons without being preachy, because you know he had to learn these lessons himself. The songs are a grand blend of styles and this album is completely enjoyable from start to finish.