Country singer will preview anticipated sophomore album Casey James’ evolution

By John Benson

Jumping for joy is what country singer Casey James is doing these days regarding his highly-anticipated sophomore album due out in 2015.

“It’s dramatically different,” said James, calling from his Fort Worth, Texas, home. “There are obviously connective tissues between the old record and the new, but it’s an evolution.”

That evolution took some time, which is why last year when James came through Northeast Ohio he was talking about his sophomore album he expected to have out this year.

Having patience is nothing new to James, who four years ago came in third on “American Idol.” His self-titled album debuted at No. 2 on the country charts a year later and spawned top 25 singles “Let’s Don’t Call It a Night” and “Crying on a Suitcase.”

Normally when an artist enjoys the type of success James did — no No. 1 hits but two high-charting songs he can proudly hang his hat on — a sophomore album is a guarantee. However, from the outside, the delay of pushing back release dates makes one question whether his record label was getting cold feet. It turns out that couldn’t be further from the truth.

“My label is behind me,” James said. “Now, I didn’t really get the numbers coming off [the debut] so it surprises me I’m still around. I’ve seen a lot of turnover at the label and that to me says they’re excited and dedicated. That’s a big thing. It frees me up. And in this situation, I’m looking at it going in that this is it. There will not be anything else unless there is success here. I’m OK with that.”

Part of that excitement stems from news songs such as the slow and bluesy “A Woman’s Touch,” to the pop sounding “Another You” and melodic “Light Years.” James said the latter track has almost a Coldplay vibe.

Which brings us to another point regarding the young singer-songwriter — he’s not afraid to digress from country boundaries into R&B, blues and Southern rock.

“The country music genre changed,” James said. “I grew up listening to many different genres, one of which was country. And when I say country, I mean it was very country. Now country is a wide open genre.”

Something else that’s wide open for James is his acceptance to recording material from other songwriters. Take for instance his next album’s lead single, “Fall Apart,” which was written by Will Bowen, Josh Carter and Zach Carter.

“At this point in my career, I feel like it’s more important to have great music,” James said. “You can still relate to a song and believe in it. And if you can’t, then it’s not a song you should be cutting. Also, I can put my touch on the song with the guitar work and vocals.”

Fans will get a sneak peak of his new material when James returns to Northeast Ohio for a Saturday show at the Dusty Armadillo, where previously the artist was worried about hitting his head on the short ceiling.

“You know what, I don’t think I hit my head last time we were there,” James laughed. “But I do jump around a lot, especially with this new music. I’ll be shocked if I don’t because I’ll probably let it get the best of me and jump around and probably knock myself out. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen.”

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