Jim’s new album ”Therapy” is now out and his website www.jimleamusic.com is up and running. Check it out. Here you can buy the album, both as download and as CD - expect 28 days of delivery for the latter.
I played the downloads to some of my friends in the music business and they were baffled. As one said, “I hadn’t expected that! I’d thought, yeah, yeah, the retired Slade whiz trying to do one more in his old age, in then the guy brings out this smash album! Goddamn, he’s even better now than he ever was with Slade!”
The album consists of 13 tracks, a few rock tunes but mostly ballad-like pop with an orchestral sound. The tracks stem from the same tradition and fond approach to music as Beatles, mostly McCartney I guess, although Jim has an edge and sharpness that McCartney never had. It’s a bit as if the British Invasion hasn’t quite ended or maybe it hasn’t even started, yet, as “Therapy” brings something new to it. Even though you seem to detect a little Beatles and The Who here, a little Beach Boys and Everly Brothers there, Jim tends to surprise with unexpected twists to his compositions, a hint of pop magic sweetness and good solid craftsmanship. I don’t know if there’s a marked for this kind of music these days, but had it been in the seventies it would have soared the charts. Well, had it had a McCartney-credit stuck to it instead of a James Whild Lea I guess it still would.
The arrangements had my music business friends go bonkers, the instrumentation and playing as well. If I am to say something negative, and I suppose I am, many of the tracks have odd abrupt endings, which make them sound unfinished. It’s not quite becoming except for tracks like “Could God Be A Woman” and “Let Me Be Your Therapy”, where you really can’t go on after the final punchline of the lyrics.
Lyricswise “Therapy” seems to be a rather personal and well…therapeutic album. It struggles with inner demons, with the mistaken arrogance of youth, with death, insecurity and loneliness. But it is not depressing at all, oh no. It still has this typical ironic feel to it, that to me is very much Jim. He really has something to say in that Dylan-Lennon-way and it’s nice seeing a mature, intelligent person speaking his mind without selling out on the music. Too often you see people neglect the music in order to go Shakespeare, or the other way around, write great poptunes with inane lyrics. Here you have the best of two worlds.
Some of the tracks you’ll already know, namely “Universe”, “Great Big Family” and “I Wanna Go Out In Style”, the latter two being performed at the Jim Jam gig in Bilston in 2002. At the moment my own personal favourites on the albums are “Dead Rock UK” and “Heaven Can Wait”, but other highlight are “Let Me Be Your Therapy” and “Notice” among others.
You’ll find typical trademarks all over the album from the use of megaphone- and stereo-effects, over little laughs and quips to the deliberate mimicking of others like on “Dead Rock UK”, where the music sounds like that of the dead musicians, throwing in a little “Bye, Bye Love” as well. “All That Jazz”-version, of course, especially the bass line at the end. As usually Jim alters his voice to make it fit with the different tracks.
Watch out for a track-by-track review later on here on this blog.
I’ll let one of my music business friends have the last word in this rather long review. He said, “If the guy doesn’t want to tour, he ought to stick a video camera in his studio, do a tune or two and put them on You Tube. People really need to know about this album, because it deserves to become a massive success.”