“Though the sound is bigger than a folk record, the dark lyrics are wrapped in familiar Americana. The instrumentation is meticulous—nothing sounds out-of-place, especially the aching pedal steel, which is used with remarkable restraint. Build Me This is convincing from its opening line – “I ain’t cutting my hair till the good lord comes” – through its solemn last words: “I’ve given up.” — Paste Rating 92 out of 100 “Phenomenal”
“This 25-year-old songwriter already has the wisdom to know that if you’re going to serve up a blood-drenched biblical allegory, you best have an old soul’s voice to sing it with. Every line rings with desperation and a desire for salvation.”
- Esquire magazine
It is, after all, impossible to deny how great the songs are…..There isn’t a weak track on the album, and James is a singer of great natural instincts, imbuing these tunes with emotion and taste throughout….Build Me This is one of the year’s nicest surprises and a darkhouse pick for the year-end lists.
- No Depression
James is a songwriter with more than just a hint of beauty in his voice and his words seem to come from the ends of dusty roads and bottomless nights that just keep on stretching and stretching and feeling as if they’ll never turn.
“Passionate, bloody minded songwriting from a man on a mission.”
“James specializes in lyrics that cut right through listeners with their sincerity and honesty. With a tender, scratchy voice that often cracks with emotion, and a clear understanding of the vivid storytelling that defines folk music, he commands attention effortlessly”
- NPR (Song of the Day)
“A young Midwestern singer-songwriter who writes hard-bitten songs of family tragedies and sings them in a voice that’s as sun-bleached and wind-battered as a Nebraska cornfield.”