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ALBUM REVIEW: Dean James and the Black Dogs – ‘Ward S’

April 17, 2016 11:00 am

Out now

For more music from Dean James visit his SoundCloud site here

Reviewed by Sophie Ward

Dean JamesDean James & The Black Dogs debut album, Pure makes you wonder why James has waited until reaching forty to release an album. The local lad, born in South Shields, has an immense amount of musical talent. His powerful vocals add a lot to his songs, which he writes himself.

Pure is an album that touches on depression, addiction, and mental illness. Initially, you may mistake this for another blues album but it is so much more than that. James throws a lot of emotion and feeling into his songs that, when mixed with the talent of the Black Dogs band, gets close to creating a totally unique genre of their own.

Each of the songs recorded on the album has James’ unique sound attached, making Pure accessible for fans of all types of music. This could be because James uses a diverse list of musicians as an influence. Opening the eleven- track album is ‘Cole’, a beautiful yet sad song that touches on religious and spiritual confusion. Straight away you know that the songs you are about to hear will be somewhat relatable while also being enjoyable.

One of my favourites was ‘Love You Bad’. It has an old school, rock n’ roll vibe. This song is actually a duet with Jasmine Ellen Scott. Both their voices merge perfectly and resonate the problems in a troubled relationship. Another favourite was ‘I’m Thirsty’ which is a tad more ‘rock-y’, almost ‘grunge- like’, a song about alcoholism and the battle of needing – not wanting – a drink. The song features a lot of raw energy and illustrates how Nirvana has influenced James quite perfectly.

The album from Forgotten City Records also features singles ‘Bad Day’ and ‘Alive’. Two tracks that have already found James a fan-base, making this album highly anticipated. One thing is for sure, Pure is guaranteed to feature one or more personal favourites that will stay with you long after listening.

Ending with ‘So Cold’, the depression theme stays strong to the final note. Despite the seemingly dark subjects of each track, they are all so hauntingly beautiful that Pure turns out to be truly mesmerising.


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