Album review: JAN JAMES – Justify

JAN JAMES - Justify

Website [Release date 27.03.20]

Jan James met her partner, songwriter/guitarist Craig Calvert, at Michigan State University, before the pair of them moved to Chicago. They performed regularly in Chicago, released a series of albums, including one on the blues label Provogue. Jan James also took the starring role in a show based on the music and letters of Janis Joplin. Plenty of experience then and it has led to this, her latest album, one with plenty of blues, rock and soul.

Jan James has a powerful, soulful vocal that suits the simmering blues rock on ‘A Different Life’ and the slower, moody ‘Never In The Game’. Craig Calvert weaves in some wonderful blues solos on the songs, with a suitably emotive solo on ‘Never In The Game’.

Her early years singing in the church choir form the basis of ‘Anything You Want’, a mix of gospel, honkytonk piano and another fine piece of harp playing by David Semen. Jan James even has a go at the Rolling Stones classic ‘Honky Tonk Woman’, which she slows right down and again more great harp playing. A good cover version as she make sit her own.

Jan James has been around the blues scene for a number of years now and whilst ‘Justify’ may be a typical blues album in parts, her vocals and the guitar lift it up to another level. Definitely worth investigating. ***1/2

Review by Jason Ritchie


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