Croatia-based singer-songwriter Nemo James released la 17-track album last August titled The Minstrel, which should be categorised in the adult contemporary genre. For the most part, it can be summed up in one word: mellow. The lyrics make most of these songs almost come off as poems set to music while everything about the instrumentation has clearly been carefully crafted, one note at a time.
Most of the numbers are soothing, slow-tempo ballads (“Dreamer On The Run”, “The Poet”, and “Sing For Your Child” to name a few). Others are soothing slow-tempo ballads with a twist. A female vocalist adds a delicate, emotional tremble to “Pride” and “A Woman Unknown”, while strings make “In The Garden” a sort of languid lullaby, quite appropriate for a song dedicated to the singer’s late mother. We also travel to Latin America for a short while in “Forbidden Fruit” and up to the warmth of country in “I Wonder” and “It Really Doesn’t Matter”. James’ warm vocals, set in a middle range, make him quite approachable in general, but mostly so in the folk-imbibed mid-tempo “Love In Your Heart” and “I Hated What I Found”.
The sweetest track is “A Simple Love Song” which starts off with: “I wanted to write/A song for you/To tell you just/How I feel/’Cause now for the first time/It’s not just a dream/This love that I have/Is real.” The most surprising one is the album’s only up-tempo number, the country imbibed “Little Tin Box”, a piano-led number that happens to be a whole lot of fun until one listens to the lyrics: it’s all about being completely and absolutely broke.
The excellent production on The Minstrel makes the carefully constructed melodies shine through clearly. Built for the most part on an acoustic guitar with delicate and subtle touches courtesy of a combination of drums, piano, extra guitars, horns and strings, the melodies make for great accompaniment to the poetic lyrics. Tracks are available for streaming on SoundCloud. More information about Nemo James is available on his official website and his Facebook page.
Pictures provided by Independent Music Promotions.