Galen James…where do I start with this guy? Well I guess I can start by saying he’s the one to watch (ok, this sentence occasionally pop up in past reviews, but he REALLY is the one to watch). This five time Downbeat Awards winner doesn’t stop at second best when producing something organic and beautifully rich, blending jazz with rock, soul, R&B and pop.
His mammoth effort, “Big Blue Mixtape” brings all of that and more. Being 20 tracks long, some may argue that the prospective listener may slip into a coma…there’s no chance of that happening here: each track is truly different, leading to a feeling of excitement for what’s ahead. The album begins with an explosion of delightful mish-mash arrangements of the drums, trumpet and guitars, giving a jazz-fused rock feel in “African 6/8”. Galen’s Stevie Wonder-esque vocals, gives the recording a bold soulful lick.
Further along the line and bursts of reggae makes a surprising entry in fourth effort, “The Other Me”. The rock steady genre is accompanied by mainstream-inspired pop infused with Jazz. “Night Music” presents another surprise, sporting a mellow yet uplifting EDM(ish) drive working his big band-fused trademark.
A real laid back and warm soul/jazz affair shows up in “Looking Back”, with the wild guitar riffs ripping through the relaxing fusion. Continuing the soul/jazz blend, “If You Feel You” has a kick of funk with Galen’s vocals weaving throughout the composition, making it very reminiscent of a Stevie Wonder 70s classic.
A beautifully atmospheric pop/rock story shows up in “Bird”, building up to the bluesy signature, with gospel-esque vocals giving the track some real spice.
I’ve pretty much given the game away on how great this album is (I just couldn’t help it, sorry!) Now the ball is in your court; hit the play button and be prepared to be utterly stunned.