A few years ago, Early James stumbled home, “drunk, or in some kind of state” and started doing dishes. When he woke up the next morning, the young man did not have a clean kitchen, but, he’d soon realize, he did have a song. Almost immediately, James began writing “Dishes in the Dark,” a sober self-reflection about trying, and failing, to clean your act up. “This dirt, this dust, this rust/It’s what I’m all about,” he sings over a sparse acoustic guitar. “I won’t wash up/I’ll just wash out.”
Singing For My Supper, the debut album from Early James, is full of those types of poignant, straight-from-real-life-to-the-page stories. Early James has lived a long life for a 26 year-old, a life he can’t help but end up turning into art. Songs keep spilling out of him: Songs about addiction, songs about familial reckoning, songs about mental health, songs about the ways adulthood can rob us of childhood wonder. For someone raised largely by the women in his family in Southeastern Alabama, Early James, whose mother worked 12-hour shifts as a traveling nurse during his upbringing, never expected that he’d get to become a professional artist, and he doesn’t plan on wasting a second.
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