James Lee Stanley
Find out more about:
All Wood And Stones II
Find out more about:
Backstage At The Resurrection
Find out more about:
All Wood And Doors
Live In Tehachapi - VolumeII
Live In Tehachapi - VolumeI
Find out more about:
new traces of the old road (2008)
Find out more about:
The Eternal Contradiction (2007)
The Coffee Gallery (2006)
Find out more about:
All Wood and Stones (2004)
Find out more about:
A Beachwood Christmas (2003)
Once Again (2001)
two man band two (2000)
Freelance Human Being (1998)
Domino Harvest (1997)
tWo mAn banD (1995)
Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (1995)
The Envoy (1993)
Ripe four Distraction (1990)
LIVE at McCabes (1986)
Racing The Moon (1984)
Midnight Radio (1980)
Three's the Charm (1974)
James Lee Stanley, Too (1973)
James Lee Stanley (1973)
Ever wondered what others saw and felt during an appearance? Or maybe you want to know what they think of a particular song or album?
Here's where to look!
Wednesday, October 5th, 2011 8:32 PM PDT
Review of 'Backstage at the Resurrection' by Paul Zollo for BlueRailroad.com
By PAUL ZOLLO
James Lee Stanley, Backstage at the Resurrection. [Beachwood Recordings].
Inspirational, inventive and inviting. A great achievement. Just when we think James Lee Stanley won’t ever record a new album as great as one of his past classics, he comes along with something like this, a collection of poignant, charged songs by one of our greatest singer-songwriters. He’s long been a beloved presence on the L.A. folk music scene as well as throughout America with good reason: not only is he a gifted and original songwriter, he’s also one of the best singers and guitarists around, with a voice that just takes flight in songs.
Produced and arranged by Stanley, the tracks are rich with the love of great musicians with whom he’s performed over the years, including Chicago harmonica legend Corky Siegel, trombone and bass by the great Chad Watson, Bill Kole on banjo, John Batdorf joining Stanley on acoustic guitar. But it’s the harmony vocals throughout that raises this one far above the level of most current projects. The man knows harmonies – and also knows lots of the best harmony singers around, who are enlisted to grace these songs, including Dan Navarro, Lisa Turner, Severin Browne and Joe Rathburn. “Backhand Man” sounds like a new standard, cushioned by rich, often complex harmonies and sparkling acoustic guitars. It sounds like one of the best Byrds songs you’ve never heard. “I Can’t Cry Anymore” is an infectious testament to persistence and strength, the kind of song we need now more than ever.
Throughout Stanley cannily merges jazzy harmonies and chords with great soul, as on the glorious “Don’t Wait Too Long,” a stunner with the kind of close jazzy harmonies CSN can only do cause of David Crosby’s vocal genius, and Stanley shares this dynamic. Humans love to hear harmonies, and when voices fold into harmonies this richly conveyed, it introduces a wonderful depth – a whole other dimension – to a song.
Backstage at the Resurrection is yet another chapter in a remarkable career; one of the best albums I’ve heard in a long time by a guy who has been making great albums for a good while.
Wednesday, October 5th, 2011 8:29 PM PDT
A Review of 'Backstage at the Resurrection' by Lory Lazarus
You are brilliant. I know you already know that, but we artists all like to hear it (especially from fellow artists). I have finally had time to listen to your CD in its entirety. Excellent work! Some specifics:
I CAN'T CRY ANYMORE: Your chord progression on the chorus is inspired. I had to take out my guitar and figure it out -- it was that cool. Unusual and catchy and wonderful.
COMING OUT OF HIDING: Great BG vocals from the lady, and guitar work is exceptional.
GOIN' BACK TO MEMPHIS: my first "favorite" song on the disc. Great guitar work again, and inspired placing it right after LET'S GET OUT OF HERE (like, "Hey, let's get out of here" -- and you do and you end up in Memphis. Cool).
FEATHER RIVER NOCTURNE: Beautiful.
DO AS YOU'RE TOLD: Been there in my upbringing. The words got to me. Of course, I didn't do as I was told, and ended up a playwright/songwriter working in a restaurant. But I am HAPPY. Good song.
ALL ABOUT LOVE: my second "favorite" song on the CD. Just wonderful. The banjo was a great touch. Nice vocals. Gorgeous song (and sentiment). You should sing this one in New Age churches on Sundays. Hell, you should sing it in any church.
WHAT WOULD YOU DO: I think I heard you do this one live. Always liked it a lot (especially the words).
BACKSTAGE AT THE RESURRECTION: Amazing that I listened to this song for the first time today -- the day before Good Friday. Clever words, great performance. Loved it.
LET'S GET OUT OF HERE reprise: Nice hearing you solo with guitar. Great touch putting this at the end of the disc.
Thanks for recording -- once again -- another great CD. I'll send you a check soon to get ALL WOOD AND DOORS from you. Looking forward to that one.
I send a massive, insane hug (p.s.: liked the old photo of you with the banana on the inner sleeve. It is because you have eaten all those bananas that you're still going strong today).
Monday, April 4th, 2011 11:31 AM PDT
Lee's Listening Stack: James Lee Stanley -- 'Backstage at the Resurrection' and 'All Wood and Doors'
James Lee StanleyBackstage at the Resurrection
James Lee Stanley and Cliff EberhardtAll Wood and Doors
Despite the fact he’s already considered one of the standard bearers of today’s singer/songwriter and neo-folk movements, James Lee Stanley somehow manages to outdo himself every time out. His latest effort, Backstage at the Resurrection,
provides all the proof needed. A breezy collection of festive melodies with a decided tropical feel, its songs convey the unassuming but obvious confidence of a man well versed in his craft. That’s clearly evident even at the outset, given the celebratory designs of opening tracks “Backhand Nab” and “I Can’t Cry Anymore,” and in spite of titles that might suggest otherwise. Surreptitious at times – “Coming Out of Hiding” and “Feather River Nocturne” could be offered in evidence – Stanley’s sound is engaging and accessible, given rich harmonies that recall Crosby Stills and Nash or America at their sweetest and most sincere. Still, if there’s any doubt as to any early allegiance, “Going Back to Memphis,” with its riveting grit and solid groove makes it clear he’s got a poet’s eloquence and a reverential heart.
Also add imagination to Stanley’s list of attributes. The second in what’s now become a highly anticipated series that touts reinvention of certain standards, All Wood and Doors
picks up on the buzz generated by last year’s All Wood and Stones
, in which Stanley found himself interpreting classic Rolling Stones songs with acoustic guitar and a back porch sensibility. As the title implies, the current project applies that treatment to the music of the Doors, doing so in a way that’s equally sympathetic but no less conspicuous in its drastic redesign. Purists might balk at some of the treatments – indeed, few of the songs bear anything other than a perfunctory resemblance to the original template – but having gained the blessings -- and in fact, the participation -- of former Doors Robbie Krieger and John Densmore, he easily deflects all charges of heresy. Fellow folkie Cliff Eberhardt helps at the helm, his gruff vocals adding the necessary insurgence in lieu of Jim Morrison’s howl and croon, while a host of other familiar names – Peter Tork, John Batdorf, Paul Barrere, Timothy B. Schmit, among them – add their credence to the project as well. Although “Light My Fire” in particular has been opened up to all sorts of possibilities over the years, the takes on “Break on Through,” Soul Kitchen” and “People Are Strange” might put the purists off, but even they won’t be able to deny the affection and attention Stanley and Eberhardt clearly invested in this endeavor. – Lee Zimmerman
Lee Zimmerman is a contributor to a variety of publications, including Blurt, M Music & Musicians, New Times, Goldmine and Amplifier
Friday, April 1st, 2011 11:22 AM PDT
This review in from the San Diego Troubadour
Backstage at the Resurrectionby Frank Kocher
“Eclectic” is a word that gets used a lot in music reviews these days. For an artist like James Lee Stanley, there just isn’t a way to avoid the label. He is a veteran performer whose songs range from California-sound country rock to soul/funk, with stops on the way for jazzy pop and gospel-shaded blues. A frequent San Diego visitor who has been releasing discs since the early seventies, Stanley hits all of the bases on his latest, Backstage at the Resurrection.
The beautifully recorded disc, features 12 Stanley originals, and there isn’t a filler cut anywhere. The memorable, catchy songs have melody hooks that listeners will be humming afterward, delivered in style changeups that showcase Stanley’s singing and writing talents. A rock-solid singer, his lyrics (on his website, with a nice blurb about each tune) are social observations and calls to make things better, without being preachy or angry.
Tight, three-part harmonies are a key part of the sound on “Backhand Man,” recalling Crosby, Stills, and Nash; the vocals are razor-sharp. It takes an old pro like Stanley to nail them this well, and the whole song is three-part. The beat on “I Can’t Cry Anymore” has more of a funk feel, but the harmonies on the chorus are still there, as he sings that he is “all out of tears.” Stanley weaves a dark spell on “Coming Out of Hiding,” a standout track that draws from the laid-back R&B of such groups as War. In the eighties, this one was a hit for Stanley’s sister Pamela, and it sounds ready for radio again. In the same groove, “Let’s Get Out of Here” is another winner, pop-jazz with Latin shading, and Stanley’s vocal is rich and soulful.
“Going Back to Memphis” is a bluesy, good time shuffle about returning to roots, and “Feather River Nocturne” follows, an interesting guitar instrumental that offers a glimpse of Stanley making his Martin sing.
The quiet mood of “Don’t Wait Too Long” brings back memories of “Helplessly Hoping” and other good, soft folk-rock harmony pieces from CSN’s salad days. True to form, Stanley shifts gears again, and “What Would You Do” is pure pop, another instantly memorable riff with a simple but positive message about working together, “Would there be change or would things be the same/ Have we already done all we can?”
The title tune is a driving rocker, one of those political/surreal passion plays with characters (St George, Ruth, Luke, Judas Priest) representing metaphors for the Bush/Cheney cabal. The inspiration is clearly “Highway 61 Revisited” and this is an update for 2011, with “St George” and his Patriot Act, his buddy Judas, and his kool aid Easter eggs ready to lead the lemmings off the cliff. Yep, it’s another highlight.
James Lee Stanley proves on Backstage at the Resurrection that sometimes there is no substitute for experience when it comes to good music. A proven roots artist for decades, he makes diverse, impressive music that succeeds on its own terms.
Thursday, March 24th, 2011 12:47 PM PDT
Another fan review of Backstage at the Resurrection
Hi James Lee! Last week i had some quiet time to relax and listen to your new album. After the last song, the reprise, i wanted to run to the PC to write and tell you that i enjoyed the whole album, every song, so much!!! I am so glad i ordered it. I didn't get a chance until now to write and tell you. I'm sure you must be getting similar emails and comments. The album is a gem. Your singing, playing, the production, the songs--how it's all put together...first rate all the way!!!! And of course, i enjoyed John Batdorf on a couple of backgound vocals. Thanks for including him on your album!
Last weekend, i was on a 2-hour roadtrip. On the way back, relaxed and at peace from enjoying such a nice Fall day in the country, i put on your album and was able to listen to it 2 times before getting home. It was the perfect ending to a perfect day...and by the time i pushed 'play' for the second time, i was able to sing along with most of the songs ('backstage at the resurrection' will take a little practice--haha).
I love this album! Congratulations, James Lee! marilyn
Thursday, March 24th, 2011 12:22 PM PDT
A fan review of Backstage at the Resurrection well worth sharing
First James, As i mentioned on the telephone after getting my hands on this and playing it 5 times before coming up for air----This is the BEST YOU'VE EVER DONE!!!! Yeah yeah, I know---you always promise that each new recording is the "Best you've ever done." However, this time you speak true--it sounds like you have finally taken the time to make a recording on YOUR schedule---where you took your time until you KNEW it was right and ready--and then you released it on your schedule---it shows my friend--it shows!! More thoughts on the totality when I'm done going cut by cut--but first;
Backhand Man: There was a story you used to tell about the record executive who asked you, "James, why don't you write a hit?" It seemed hilarious at the time that a record executive could be so clueless--if you know where that idiot is--you should send him this! Yes James---you've written a hit. This song, the recording, the words (simply change the title to Chris Brown) the arrangement--all perfect!! My god man---you've done it and this is only Cut 1!!! Aw Christ--my work is cut out for me---let's continue.
I Can't Cry Anymore: James--you are singing about crying but somehow you sound happier than I've heard you in years. This is what has been lacking in your last couple of CD's----my God---you sound happy even in a sad song which is something I had always admired in your writing and production that i just realized has been missing lately. That isn't to call your last couple disappointing--they are not--my god I love them--but these actually sound as if you are in a new space. I too, have found a new reality in the last 2 years. With this country being Bushless--my whole way of thinking has changed--maybe that's it--maybe it's just the times---but whatever it is--it sounds good on ya!! As for this tune---does perfect fit? No---not 2 perfects in a row--but then again!!?? Mayhaps, Perbe!!
Coming Out of Hiding: Love the opening guitar tracks and the voice sounds somehow "determined"--not sure if you'll get my meaning there but you do sound somehow determined. Hmmm, that's what this album seems to be--JLS coming out of hiding--maybe determined now to finally take what you have earned---putting out an album with a "no excuses guarantee" for any and all. You sound so very fired up, determined to prove that THIS is what my career has been leading to all this time. The song speaks volumes on it's own as a relationship song but even more so as a James Lee Stanley statement to the world! God, I love this album. There is a totally new sound for a JLS album here--it all seems to stem from the guitar work. This sounds, again, like an old song re-done for today! Some new tricks have been learned-you old dog-hmm thought that this could't be done. Love the vocal interplay, as well, the arrangement is superb!
Let's Get Out Of Here: This sounds so familiar in a very pleasurable way, like you have taken one of my favorite old songs and have somehow re-done it to make it new without losing any of the things that made me love it to begin with--which of course is not based in any reality but it seems so real. Let's just get out of here!!! Love everything about this---Musically fine, lyrically divine, vocally perfect and the arrangement that it all needs to hold itself together---you cannot beat that combination!!
Going Back To Memphis: Acapella--Love it---Love it Love It!! Soulful. Love the vocal charges that seem to have come forth on their own but seem to add a lot. The only thing missing here is the good Reverend Al Green doing back up vocals.
Feather River Nocturne: James--this is just beautiful. I know how close you were to Tom and you seems to have captured something here that only you could---The Feather River lives near my backyard here in Chico--it runs right though town and you seem to have captured it well. I know that you have captured the love between two men that you and Tom shared. I am proud of you for this one--it has masterpiece written all over it! My best friend, Jon Silvius, was killed in his airplane (ultralight) a few years back and yes--I do understand the great love between two men friends--i miss him everyday, just as you do Tom---and this makes me feel closer to him---Thank you for that!!
Don't Wait To Long: The acoustic guitar work on this one thrills me and the lyrics take me back to childhood and the journey before me as I grew as it was meant i'm sure. Don't wait too long---funny how this message never means as much to us when we are young as it does as we grow older. Where does the time go? Would we really want it to do over again---In the words of Dirk Hamilton----"YEP!!"
Do As You're Told: James is getting political once again I do believe. He and i have always thought alike in so many ways and this line is one that has pissed me off my whole life----it was exactly why i got into radio--because i was a musician who had no talent for music. The musicianship was in my soul but never translated to my body. This is probably why i have loved musicians and what they do for my entire life--the jealousy factor of being able to translate that into an instrument must be a god given gift that I was in the wrong line to receive even though I did receive the musicians soul etc. Do as you're told----I don't think so!!! The song and arrangement are wonderful and have the desired effect. I am now thoroughly pissed at every single person who ever said that to me!
All About Love: Lyrically this songs says it all---and the arrangement and vocal interplay are superb. The banjo is an added effect that was unexpected but that makes the song--Love it--nothing more need be said!
What Would You Do: I don't know why--but i can see you writing this--speaking your mind and asking yourself questions when they can no longer be asked of those we would most like the answer from. The never asked, never answered question done with sweet arrangement both vocally and musically!
Backstage at The Resurrection: Frankie Lee and Judas Priest--they were the best of Friends!! This has tones of so much of what was Dylan back in the day--and is as good or better than any of it--with sounds of the Bush Family ruining all that was and is---this is probably the most overtly political writing of your career and NEEDS to be heard and understood!! James I am proud of you for this one--it is great as a recording but even better as an indictment--I love it!! The best JLS rocker of all time and it MEANS something--well done my friend--well done.
Let's Get Out of Here (Redux) Another very different version of one of my favorites from the album. A bit more relaxed if you will, asking the listener to mellow out a bit after the last song and to now go forward happily into a new day with the one you love and simply get away from the everyday and get away for a while!!
OK James---to follow up on some closing thoughts as I again restart the album----I can never seem to listen to it just once--I am "in love" with this latest recording of yours. It makes me feel silly to say this in this way but I am "proud of you" for doing this album in the way that you have. The lovely Eveline should be commended for asking and allowing you to take your time and :make this one right." You have made an album to be proud of---it is almost like a culmination of a a career. For Gods sake don't ever stop--but please approach everything you do as you did this recording--it is all that it can be and more. AND--it is so good to be and to hear you happy again----Make ya a deal---if Jeb ever runs for president--we leave the country together---and if Palin wins we just shoot each other!!
By the way, I was so pleased to see Dirk Hamilton on your record. He has been one of my favorite since his early albums and his live album from a couple of years ago recorded live in Italy is one of my favorite from the last few years. i believe it was called the "relative health of your horse outside!" and was titled after a bastardization of a song lyric about the relative health of your soul inside--anyway--great album. Gotta get back on his mailing list if he still has it to find out about any newer recordings. I seem to remember the days when the music industry said that the next big things in music would be Dirk Hamilton, James Lee Stanley and John Hiatt---think that came from Rolling Stone magazine in the early 70's. Anyway--ya gotta love the fact that you two are working together from time to time now!
All my love to your lady Eveline, my friend, and keep some for yourself---just in case you didn't know it---you are treasured!!
Thursday, March 24th, 2011 12:13 PM PDT
Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange reviews Backstage at the Resurrection
A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker
This is the latest from a gent who's issued a lot of very fine LPs and CDs since 1973, and, like so many cats 'n kitties from the days of olde, he gets nothing but better. In many ways, James Lee Stanley is akin to Iain Matthews, getting smoother and more enjoyable each release out, time being his pal and abettor—and lord knows he's been a great tunesmith right from the start. Not only that, but steal a gander at who backs him up: John Batdorf, Severin Browne, Corky Siegel, Jim Photoglo, Ken Lyon, Dirk Hamilton, James Hurley…yow!! That much said, I'm not sure I need to write any more, but will.
Stanley's usually slotted into the folk category, and that's a good start, but, really, he's a fine pop and mello-rock composer as well. Each LP and CD he's issued has had at least several excellent charters, though they rarely got exposed well, the #1 complaint of the entire industry. Let's Get Out of Here
is an upbeat number with a burning guitar lead, something JP Jones or Kenny Loggins (in his less New Agey not-so-weepy days) might have concocted. John Batdorf, who duetted with Stanley for the surprising All Wood and Stones
(a tribute to early Rolling Stones songs gone acoustic), appears as a key member of the backing band(s) and if you caught the debut Batdorf & Rodney LP from 1972, a long-lost treasure, then you know what that means.
Feather River Nocturne
is something of a surprise, an instrumental, a form Stanley's not often given to composing but most definitely welcome. In the vocal cuts, though, James Lee's voice is as fine as ever, the backing harmony vocals fining his refrains out to a delicious degree. His subject matter is always folkish but to-the-moment while looking back, Do as You're Told
a clear demonstration of just that in a cool, settled-down, Little River Band-ish kinda cut. I'd say it's my favorite, and it probably is, but there are so many excellent tracks here that I'm hesitant to single any
out. I don't want to think badly of myself.
This is about as good as it gets, folks, and the disc just re-proves my contention that independent labels are far outstripping the majors in terms of everything: quality, quantity, artfulness, whatever you're looking for. If you're tending to the radio for your music fare, you're pretty much wasting time and need to be delving into material like Backstage at the Resurrection
, switching to the CD deck for your sonic enrichment. You'll thank me for this advice.
Sunday, March 6th, 2011 9:30 PM PST
Backstage At The Resurrection
The reviews keep pouring in for my latest CD, Backstage At The Resurrection and they are consistently joyous. Check out what reknown Saxophonist Rob Kyle has to say:
Your songwriting, singing, playing, producing and CD making just keep
getting better & better James! I guess doing it all 362 days a year for at
least the 20+ years I've known you, has helped with all of that :-) And it
was all at a pretty high level 20 + years ago. Nice CD cover and artwork
too. And I LOVE the title!
Rock on brother, and THANK YOU so much for the gift!
Dark Delishious Music
Tuesday, October 12th, 2010 2:19 PM PDT
At a concert in Rockford, Illinois for Charlotte's Web, Odetta said to James Lee, "Young man, you are the real thing." James was thrilled.
Tuesday, October 12th, 2010 2:18 PM PDT
Tom Dundee Recommendation
"you know Stanley...he treats every gig like it was Carnegie Hall."
Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009 5:11 PM PDT
Concerts In Your Home Recommendation ...
"...James Lee Stanley is someone that we want to book again and again - and not just because he turned out to be such a nice, down to Earth guy! ..."
Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009 4:57 AM PST
Sundilla Acoustic Concert Series
Whenever I book someone I have never seen live, a tiny part of me fears that he won't live up to our high standards. When I booked James Lee Stanley, that was reversed: I feared that we could not live up to his standards.
I hope we did, because James Lee Stanley is someone that we want to book again and again. (And not just because he turned out to be such a nice, down to Earth guy!)
If I had to come up with something bad to say about James, it would be that he didn't bring enough CDs with him; they were all sold before intermission ended! But come to think of it, that says more good than bad about what a great singer/songwriter/performer he is.
Bailey Jones / Sundilla Concert Series
Monday, March 2nd, 2009 1:28 PM PST
Set List ...
Gloria Holloway writes:
Sometimes when I attend a concert, I'll hear the artist say, "I dont have a set list." I recently experienced a James Lee Stanley concert where just the opposite was true. Not only did James have a set list. He also had a set plan. The audience loved the outcome! James' performance was more aptly described as a "theatrical musical performance" rather than a "concert." There were stories that went along with the songs. There were definite scenes. One scene flowed easily into the next. There were gestures, facial expressions and physical movement.
Although the performance was well crafted, polished and professional, there was also a feelling of spontaneity and intimacy. James totally connected with the audience.
The likes of a James Lee Stanley performance is spoiling me. Next time I hear an artist say, "I don't have a set list," I may say, "Why not?"
||"The Eternal Contradiction" Review by Eric Hage of All Music
||"The Eternal Contradiction" Review by RadioIndy|
"The Eternal Contradiction" is an impressive acoustic singer/songwriter CD by James Lee Stanley. The acoustic guitar work and overall sound on the CD are very beautiful. James' thoughtful lyrics and solid vocals cut through nicely in the clean and professional recording. This CD is clearly the work of a skilled singer/songwriter who put a lot of time and energy into the songs and the recording of the CD. "Let the Tree Fall" is one of our favorite tracks, with its tasteful acoustic guitar chord progressions, inspirational and visual message and memorable chorus. "Nothing to Keep
You on My Mind" is a catchy upbeat song with interesting harmonica fills and excellent 3-part harmonies in the chorus. If you enjoy some of the legendary singer/songwriters such as Cat Stevens, James Taylor, or Crosby Stills & Nash you will enjoy this CD. Pick up a copy today!
||George Bryant writes:|
I want someday to listen to one of your new recordings for the first time with you in the room so this aged and somewhat decrepid old DJ and "commusicator" can give any valid feedback, knowing that it will be delivered and heard with love! In that light, when I received your latest a few minutes ago in the mail, I decided to listen to it and give you my thoughts "track by track" as I listen for the first time. I hope that you will enjoy my reactions and, if there are any, criticisms in the spirit they are meant. Then again--there have been very few JLS recordings that didn't KNOCK me to my knees by way of the heart, so how valid any criticisms might be can be called into question.
Here we go:
Track 1 It's All in The Game:
First, I must say that this is one of my all time favorite songs. The Van Morrison version just kills me. With that said--let's begin:
There's that bright angelic voice ---Very nice. The guitar work is clean and well done. This is just the way I knew that you would do it. OMG---The guitar break--jesus--my heart is breaking with joy.........jazzy, a bit.........Norah Jones has nothing on this guy. All said and done---I have a new favorite version of one of my favorite songs---Thank you! (I LOVE It!)
Track 2 Here We Are
I detect a little salsa here in the beginning. nice. Shadows dancing.......and we're all alone.........romantic......lovely lyrics.........another JLS love song--no one does them better. Wonderful guitar work.......did I hear Pamala in the background???......close your eyes.......look away..........just one shadow....The way with lyrics is always mind-boggling... Damned fine tune, lyrics, playing, singing. Something is developing here....if this keeps up he may have been honest in his boast that this is the best so far.
Track 3 On The Bus
A little more uptempo........Is James learning to rap? No...thank god, but he is developing a different sound for himself here....perhaps this is part of the Eternal contradiction he spoke of....I like the story line. I seem to remember when James did a lot of story songs.....Greely & Flo, many others....Wonder why he never recorded that one. Hey buddy--I'm hopping on the bus with ya! I like this---WOW---would love to hear this one live with a full band and a few dozen percussionists and extended......all in all---fine tune.
Track 4 The Loner
This one makes me nervous. As a long time Young fan--this is one of his finest songs and no one can do a Neil song but Neil---ok shut up and play it----here goes:
ok----WAY different tempo. Think I see what he's doing here--re-inventing--lovely chorus---I KNOW i heard your sister on this one--.....far away guitar....lovely.
Damn---wish I had been in on the recording session on this one--would have added a little echo to the voice on "he's the Loner" at the end----far away guitar again. Lovely ending. Wow---you have changed this song in a way that gives it even more meaning--it has become a lament as it always should have been. Very nice---yep---this is developing into a JLS album---I am loving it!
Track 5--Mary January
James has always sounded good with a sax going in the background. ..love the opening .....hmm another story song seems to be developing. Mary January---wonder if this is a real person. How did you find the door? Beautiful chorus Ah more Alto Sax....love it.....somewhat jazzy break then back to pop and back to jazzy. When I first heard the Mary January rhyme I didn't really care for the convenience of the rhyme....but I'm really liking the song and the sound.....ok I've gotten over myself---this is REALLY nice.
Track 6 This Fleeting Moment
Even before it starts i know I will like this one---the title gives me chills of expectation. Here we go:
Just as i suspected.......his lyrical talent is coming to the forefront---AH GOD JAMES---you're killing me here. Lovely, lovely lovely.......Flickering candle burns....
I feel like I'm there in the moment this was written and the love and passion of it all. Please send this one to Tom Rush----would love to hear his version of this too.
Impending loss we face in this fleeting moment here...........lay with me.....cherish......Damn---POETRY-----MY favorite so far!!
Track 7 Let The Tree Fall
Nice beginning and builds well from the previous song. Eternal Contradiction ......rebirth....this somehow reminds me of songs JLS created long ago on old private tapes that he shared with an old friend. Let the river.....let the tree.....just let go. James--the genius of your words and music almost scare me--I am so proud to be a part of your life. Musically, I may have slowed this one a bit, but it's wonderful as it is. Hey------------------it's coming true.....this may be his best work ever.......I hope he lives and records forever and never just let's it go.........somehow, I will always hang on for the next recording. BUT he's got a heck of a recording to try to top next time out. BTW Lovely Piano.
Track 8 Nothing to Keep You On My Mind
Nice echo effect at the beginning----do i detect Corky here!? It's been a long time since he recorded like this----This is blusey and sweet and yet a kiss off of some kind. Go Corky Go. Hmmmm reminds me of what I shoulda said to the ex---it is nicer after all than what i did say. Love the guitar as a rythmn instrument here---and Corky Seigal too-----YES!! Nice work James!
Track 9 Street Where Mercy Died
Nice guitar open---shades of Midnight Radio (When can I get that on CD James????) Ah Katrina---anti-Bush---YES----it's a diatribe said sweetly. Fucking BUSH should be put in a room with no windows while a garden hose slowly fills it until he drowns. How can someone write a song so full of well placed anger and have it still sound as if there is no hate there---it must be a gift--if it were me i would have had to scream and yell---but you find a way to get the point across without it. It's a gift to you and from you--thank you! haven't heard you get political since Simpatico--glad to have that aspect of you back!
Track 10 The World We Left Behind
Beautiful guitar opening--sounds like sitting in a room with you guitar in hand and wow must be Tork there on the banjo, much different tempo than expected. Nice, sounds like we have another lyrically political statement coming here----world we left behind....brightest and the best---a generation wasted perhaps---we had the spirit, damn we had it all....and so much of that has been left behind so true---but i see a new day dawning where our generation of oldsters gets back on the horse---fucking Bush is causing a lot of us to get angry again. Wonderful lyric James and the Torkish banjo adds a lot. EVERY member of our generation should be made to hear this. Musically a gem----but I also think that this may be the most IMPORTANT song you've ever written----get it out there and share it with the masses of flesh we used to call our generation. Thank you for this one. I say again, I think that this may be the most IMPORTANT song you've ever written.
Track 11 Change
Nice sound---the last three seem a trilogy. Lovely....!! Love the lyric too.
It's over. Damn...want it to keep going. OK PAL---you've done it! This is your best ever. James, I feel like I don't ever want this recording to end. Even the science of sequencing the songs is perfect. I almost dare not turn away as I feel as if this recording is brushing the dust off my soul. Oh well---I can always start it again.
Love you--as always, (and thanks for putting up with my little experiment)
From Bobby Brogan:
James Lee Stanley, you are a wonderful artist…I also want to say that Eternal Contradiction is a MASTERPIECE!!!!...
Let the Tree Fall makes me cry everytime I listen to it....Mary January is a psychedelic ride...every cut, the mixes, the sequence, the arrangements, the songs, your vocal performances (OH YOUR VOICE ON THIS DISK IS SOOOOOO NUANCED AND EMOTIVE IT PULLS THE LOISTENER IN AND KEEPS THEM GLUED)...
I can only compare the experience to a friend of mine who got me hooked on Dusty Springfield last year....he gave me a copy of the most recent reissue of Dusty In Memphis...and I was floored. Eternal Contradiction does the same...
I have your disk on and I am listening to It's All in the Game its like no other rendition I've heard Cass Elliot did a version of it which I love...yours is right next to hers and the original. You weave jazz and lullaby tones and, speaking of Cass, it reminds me of Dream A Little Dream...like I said the same quiet quality yet such sophistication and it goes seemlessly into the bossa nova Here We Are.
It just hangs out like an alley cat, the maestro of cool, and yet totally kinetic...it has a quality of romance that keeps moving that was left somewhere in the seventies. I think the triplets have something to do with it...
On the Bus has the dual layer of being a saucy cool tune, but the underbelly of it...i dont know if I would have been able to make such a statement about such a traumatic experience for you and for the girl...i hope you don’t carry any guilt around about something you couldn’t have had any control over. The song is political by simply not being political...
The Loner is woven instead of being hard, which it could have easily become given the song...the hunks of harmony that crescendo in and out are amazing...
This Fleeting Moment reinvents the love song. Its not schmaltzy...its sensitive and beautiful and the intricate guitar parts are even, but not lost in the background. Your voice sits so well, its like an intimate conversation direct, but only for the listener....
I think the reason why Let the Tree Fall makes me cry is because its celebratory...wistful cathartic even but not sad...i hope you know what you've created in this song... I think its the core of the album...
Nothing to Keep You on My Mind--again the hunks of harmony and the strong guitar part, but the harmonica, THE HARMONICA!!!!!! It gives the song just enough bite...the ultimate kiss off song!....
The Street Where Mercy Died is gritty. It stands there knowing what its saying and saying it, shouting, whispering, expounding, and while it has your attention,
The World We Left Behind the line 'It's Gonna Rain Like Hell Tonight"...I always think of rain as washing away the dirt and being cleansing and cathartic...to say it became the poison not by natures hand, but by the presidental substitute ...i just think of the bloated bodies; the people that were they wealthy and white would never have experienced what they did...not knowing that the song is about Katrina doesnt lessen the impact, but knowing that line "Its Gonna Rain Like Hell Tonight".
There was a news image of a black woman crying on that road shortly before the border that everyone was turned away from at gun point... the houses in the water with people families holding up signs for help...I wish I could draw. I'd send you the image I have in my head...to say the song and the Street Where Mercy Died paint a picture so understates it...The two songs are like two movements of the same piece...and musically the Banjo work is unbeatable, so again is the Harmonica....
Add Change to the former two songs and you have an arc. Change is sweet and strong and continues the message of the former two but has a gentle sensibility...I love when you are political...you do it so well. Change is such an anthem...It makes me think of Pete Seeger...There was a documentary on PBS about a week or so ago...Change carries on his tradition...
If you should ever do a collection of your activist/protest/political work make sure you include the last three songs on Eternal Contradiction and of course. open your eyes (from Even Cowgirls Get the Blues and Three Monkeys from Simpatico) I'm sure there are more that I don;t know about...I didnt mean to write such a long reaction, but while the cd was playing again I had to write...like I said its a masterpiece...WUNDERBAR!!!!!!! Bobby Brogan
From: Therra Cathryn Date: Mar 6, 2008 8:17 PM I plead many many post-traumatic-stress reasons why it took me so long to get your new album. OH MY GOD.
It is FANTASTIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Better than fantastic. Wow, James. Just wanted you to know.
||TBrough writes on Amazon.com:
That line, from the sweet song about the mysterious "Mary January," could also sum up the alluring yet underexposed music of James Lee Stanley. He's been making wonderful albums since the 70's, and I became an ongoing fan (and friend) when "Simpatico" crossed my desk during my radio days. Lately, he has come onto listeners' radar by touring and recording with Former Monkee Peter Tork ("Live/Backstage at the Coffee Gallery") and his excellent cover of Rolling Stones songs with John Batdorf, "All Wood and Stones." "The Eternal Contradiction" is his first original new album since 2003's "Traces of the Old Road."
It was well worth the wait. Like "Traces," James is working in a rich acoustic vein, mixing originals with some well picked covers. He even opens the CD with a delightfully low-key solo version of "It's All In The Game." First a hit for Tommy Edwards in 1958, it looks back and lays the groundwork for what is to come. "The Eternal Contradiction" is both intensely personal and brazenly political - his most political album since "Envoy." The final three songs play out like a trilogy, first with the Bush-slap of "Street Where Mercy Died," which pulls no punches.
"if you feel you've been deceived,
and don't know who you can believe
follow where the money hides
on the street where mercy died
in a house all painted white,
lights were turned out for the night
in peaceful dreams the "haves" just sighed
on the street where mercy died."
To me, this is on a par with Elvis Costello and Alan Toussaint's "The River In Reverse." It is followed by a frustrated bark at complacency, which asks "whatever happened to the brightest and the best?" (and features a great banjo part). Then the CD closes with "Change," a beautiful call for balance. These three songs alone justify owning this CD.
But as they used to say on those late night infomercials; "Wait! There's more!"
Because the politics aside, James also gives tribute to family and friends he's lost since his previous album. The late Tom Dundee is honored by James composing a melody to Dundee's sentimental, touching lyrics of "This Fleeting Moment." On "Let The Tree Fall," James celebrates his mother, who also passed. Rather than sadness, it speaks to the joy of life. James' version of Neil Young's "The Loner (set as a waltz), maintains the touch of both sentiment and celebration, but also the encompassing feeling that shrouds you when your closest friends and loved ones are no longer with you.
James' delivery, set with light acoustic folk and some jazzy undertones, belies the depth of "The Eternal Contradiction." I have to admit that many of the songs snuck up on me after a few listens, but once the songs and their meanings became clearer, I was captivated. If that is the inherent contradiction, it's a darn fine one. This CD is on my short list for best of 2007.
My Dear James,
Your music with its depth and pathos slays me. Such soulfulness. Even selflessness. YOU MEAN yourself, with all your heart. your music is touchable. Tangible. ferocious. No prisoners only tribe, guests -- ... you know your craft unequivocally. Compositionally you are enviable and a great example to composers everywhere. To musicians everywhere. Hearing your excellence is like touching making love as if it is an entity. It possesses great passion; like the center of a shooting star. Thank you.
||Pat Alder writes:
"The Eternal Contradiction" is a perfect description of the singer-songwriter James Lee Stanley. It is also the title of one of his best CD's to date, with melodious tunes complimenting a delicious pastiche of lyrics so good they could be dipped in chocolate!
Even when he dabs into politics (On The Bus) it is an upbeat tune, asking " are you on or off?"; are you going to stand by and watch or get active? The lyrics range from amusing and thought provoking to the odd folk out there, as done in "Mary January".
The music is sound, lovingly mixed to a beautiful blend, again, complimenting James' sophisticated lyrics. "The Eternal Contradiction" is a solid add to any radio station's playlist. Look out for more from this gifted, witty, musician!
(in other words, I got the CD today....James, you should be proud of this one! But....who is the one in the spangly red dress?)
||Open Letter from a Fan
Dear mr. James Lee Stanley,
My name is Carlos Benedito Fiorelli, I?m from Brasil and I received today (02-26-2007) the new cds: ??THE ETERNAL CONTRADITION??& ??LIVE/BACKSTAGE @ THE COFFEE GALLERY?. (Oh, sorry sorry sorry my english?I don?t write in english?very hard to me?lol)
Mr. Stanley, I don?t know if you remember but I have all your 9 cds .. and now these 2 great albums too!
Well, first, let me thank you about the autographs in the cds?oh, very very very kind!!!!!! Amazing surprise to me!! All the time I?m watchin the autographs?and thank you so much for write to me too?I cannot believe yet!
I?m a really your fan, Mr.Stanley, and I love your music, your wonderful voice and style! You are one of my idols! I just hope one day all your albums gonna be released in cds.
Well, I have to write a little about your wonderful new album???THE ETERNAL CONTRADITION??.
Oh what a fabulous cd, mr. Stanley!!!Like the album ??TRACES OF THE OLD ROAD??, there are a lot of great works!! By the way, just great works?the whole album is great!!
I?m listenin on this moment (writin to you and listenin the songs) the songs and?.well, I?m a musician too and (I play guitar and vocals) I?m tryin to play some of that wonderful new songs now.
There are 3 wonderful acoustic-folk-ballad songs that makes my head:
CHANGE (in G tone?oh, a lot of combinations and variations in G?I love this ..what a beautiful song!!)
MARY JANUARY (delicate, beautiful ... the refrain is unforgettable, so beautiful)
THIS FLEETING MOMENT (delicates too?lovely!!!)
HERE WE ARE, a great song and unique in the style!
2 great rock-rhythm-blues (in my opinion, sure?is not easy to think a style because your style, mr. Stanley, is unique and very original!):
NOTHING TO KEEP YOU ON MY MIND (great acoustic guitars solos?and harmonica too!) and ON THE BUS (other great song!)
Well, like I said, I really love all songs from the album?but, there are too 3 songs that makes me think ??WHAT A AMAZING INSPIRATION!??:
STREET WHERE MERCY DIED (C# - tone? what a beautiful melody, my God? a amazing combination of folk & blues to me ? is one of that songs that are unforgettable to me...)
LET THE TREE FALL (tone E ? uauuuuu?what a introduction solos with your acoustic guitar ?what a beautiful parts chords ? what a beautiful refrain ?. what a beautiful variation in the middle of the song?everything amazing)
Well?like I said, I really love all songs from the album ?but I have to confess that I have a favourite?Well, mr. Stanley, I?m in love with a song?yes?I cannot to stop to play and listens the treasure THE WORLD WE LEFT BEHIND. Oh, my God, what a combination and mix amazing of chords and harmony: E-, D, A; E-, D, A; E-, D, A; C, B-, A-; C, B-, E.
And what a unforgettable, beautiful, wonderful and amazing refrain: G, B-, E-, B4, B, C, A-, C, B-, E.
Well, once again, thank you so much mr. Stanley for everything?the autographs, the letter, the wonderful music, the wonderful original style, the wonderful & beautiful voice and the kindness!
To finish... I have a request?please never stop to record songs?never stop of make these wonderful musics and fantastic albums?
All the best, mr. Stanley!
From your eternal fan from Brasil, Carlos B. Fiorelli
Sorocaba - SP - Brasil
Below are three reviews (compliments
of ) of concerts:
Atkinson, WI (2-21-03)
Cedarburg, WI (2-22-03)
Stevens Point, WI (7-18-03)
|| This article is reprinted with permission from FI Magazine.
When Greatness Comes Knockin' Around
by Frank Doris
JAMES LEE STANLEY: Freelance Human Being
(Beachwood Recordings BF2425-2)
Esteemed readers, what I?m about to say here is not hype, or exaggeration, or
a manifestation of my admitted propensity to go a little overboard when talking about recordings I like. It?s simply the truth.
This is one of the most incredible recordings I?ve ever heard, musically and
sonically -- one of the handful that combine sublime musicianship and superb
sound. This, my friends, is one of those ultra-rare recordings that stand at
the pinnacle of the recording art, the kind of masterwork you only come across
once every few years and every few thousand albums.
As is the case with many of the best things that happen to us in life, I was
introduced to James Lee Stanley by serendipity, circumstance, and luck. One
of my co-workers is a fervent admirer of Stanley - who has recorded several
albums and has been around for years--and knew of my status (such as it is) as
a record reviewer. She told me how much she loved Stanley--whom I had never
heard of--and suggested I might like to hear him. Naturally, I agreed--I am
always open to new music and new artists, and it?s a thrill for me to be
turned on to great music I?ve never heard before, as I?m sure it is for all of
you too (and probably one of the main reasons you?re holding this magazine in
your hands right now). Shortly thereafter, a copy of Stanley?s newly minted Freelance Human Being CD arrived in my mail, and shortly thereafter I put it in the player..
And very shortly thereafter--as in immediately--I found myself agape in slack-jawed astonishment at what I was hearing: a man and his guitar singing songs
of extraordinary beauty, depth, and power, creating more musical substance and
emotional profundity form just his pure, agile, expressive tenor voice and
adept acoustic guitar picking than most artists are able to achieve using a
full band, hundreds of takes and overdubs and a space shuttle's worth of
studio devices, effects, and tricks. This man is a great artist-his songs are finely-crafted and richly-textured, with immediately memorable melodies
and thoughtful and thought-provoking lyrics, and his guitar playing is simply
gorgeous, alternating between subtle fingerpicking, lush chording, stark
simplicity, rhythmically-charged complexity, and many and varied shades in
between. The recording was made "live" -- just Stanley singing and playing,
no overdubs, punch-ins, or jive--the real thing.
James Lee Stanley connects--his lyrics are direct and unambiguous, elegant and poetic, often starkly elucidating stark truths, as in "Somewhere In Between":
"All you really had to do was talk to me/All you really had to was let me
know/That you thought we had a chance of making it/I would have never let you
go/But we turned our heads/And left it all unsaid/And we let it slip away..."
Every song is a gem--really, I struggle to select any standouts, as each is so wonderful my favorites change with every listening, and each song could be a
career-maker for any other artist. At this moment, my favorites are the wry
"I Don?t Want to Talk About It" ("Last time should have been the last time/I
don?t want to talk about it"), "Somewhere In Between,""Freeway Wine," and the
breathtaking "When Love Comes Knockin? Around"--one of the most moving and
powerful songs I?ve heard, and a song that would be an instant classic if we
were living in a more enlightened musical era. There?s even a playful cover
of Jefferson Airplane?s venerable "Fat Angel" ("Fly Trans-Love Airways; gets
you there on time").
The sound is also brilliant--amazingly clear and present, with that almost-
tactile "you-are-there" quality you almost never, truly, hear in even the best
recordings. You hear it here--this recording puts nothing between you and
Stanley's direct-to-tape performance. The frequency response is emotional,
with dynamic, articulate low end, a midrange that is as close to perfection as
I've heard, and a sweet, detailed upper midrange. The recording is so well-
balanced you don't "hear" it--the purity, tonal balance and lack of
compression is so good you simply listen to the music without focusing on any
flaws. My description isn't doing it justice, I'm afraid--really, we're
talking greatness here.
I had to call the label to find out how Freelance Human Being was recorded.
Wouldn't you know it--Producer Peter Lit set up two matched AKG 1000E
microphones in X-Y configuration, along with a Russian condenser mike called
an Octava used as a room mike. Stanley's vocals were recorded using an AKG
414 tweaked by noted microphone rebuilder Steven Paul. In addition, Stanley
ran his electric-acoustic guitar (an acoustic guitar with a built-in pickup)
directly into the board to blend with the microphone sound on some tracks, and
used some added echo and time-delay effects on a couple of cuts. According to
Beachwood Recordings' Stephen Chandler, the album was recorded "live," as
Stanley believes this is the only way to get that "special synergy" that is
inevitably lost when vocals and guitar are tracked at different times. He's
not the only one who says this--what is captured here are stunning
performances, not merely good "cuts".
Believe it: Freelance Human Being is a masterpiece in every respect. Truly this is one of the all-time greats and one of the finest recordings I've ever been privileged to hear.
Special note to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine fans: James Lee Stanley often plays one of Odo's Bejorian security guards on the show. He has also played a variety of other roles, including the Singing Klingon in the show's 1997 season premier.