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!
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||"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.