Real Life and Love Inspired Songwriter Brett James’ First Album in 25 Years
Brett James fell in love, and three years later, out popped an album. OK, it wasn't that easy, but it wasn't that hard, either.
"Melody is her name," James tells Taste of Country of his fiancee during a mid-week March phone call. "She’s also a deep soul and a real musical human. She doesn’t make music but she’s got amazing taste in music.”
I Am Now, the first of two James EPs expected in 2020, is a slice of where the famed songwriter is now, and he's in love. After a career made writing hits for Kenny Chesney, Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan and many more (a total of 500 cuts with 25 No. 1 songs), the 50-year-old is allowing himself a little vanity. "Wait" is a rare lyric he'll boast about.
“I wrote this song sitting on the couch I’m sitting on now with the guitar I’m sitting next to,” he says, calling from his home near Nashville.
"Probably an ‘A’ sound came out and it turned into the word ‘wait,'" he adds, laughing. “It was probably that much forethought that went into it, but it felt good.”
Yep, that's James word-polishing one of the finer songs on a dynamic, personal, creatively crafted EP.
"Diamonds take pressure / Fire makes gold / It make take forever / The treasures to hold," he sings over a jazzy waltz that features exquisite fret work by guitarist Andrew Deroberts.
"Perfect takes patience / Beauty takes time / Wine finds its sweetness / Many years off the vine / So I wait ... for your love."
If you weren't reading this interview on Taste of Country, and James wasn't know for writing country songs, it'd be hard to pin it to a single genre. Indeed, he's pressed physical copies of the album for media and because that's what Triple A radio prefers, and it's there he's pushing songs like the title track.
James wrote four of the five songs by himself, and admits it's much harder that way. A good collaborator can help you keep a lyric you're unsure of, making the process less fraught. James was also targeting timeless.
“Your subject matter is a little bit limited when you’re older," he says. "You can’t write about your high school girlfriend. People don’t buy that.”
Indeed, songs of trucks, bonfires and country cuties sound creepy from a man old enough to be the father to a country cutie. So you write about love in ways not yet thought of and when you can, you sneak in a song about your kids. That's what "True Believer" is.
"I'll be your true believer / The secret place you hide / Your promise, never leaver / I'm always on your side," he sings.
When pressed, James admits he penned the song with all four of his kids in mind (three boys, age 22, 20 and 16 and a daughter who's 19) but he only sent it to his daughter. It's a moving sentiment from father to daughter, one you might cry hearing if placed well in a daddy-daughter movie.
“I don’t think she shed a tear about it, that’s not my daughter," James says, laughing. "But I will say she loves it.”
See 50 Essential 2000s Country Songs: