Casey James is back with Strip It Down, an appropriately titled album given the raw and rooted songs it contains. Strip It Down is a danceable album that is truly blues at its core. This album is the perfect soundtrack for any party or car ride, alone or with a group.
Each song on this fourteen track album showcases James’ beautiful, warm, rich, and rangy vocals, and his skillful guitar playing very artfully, and without being crass. James does not sacrifice story telling or art for the sake of showing off skills in an unnecessary way. Every note and lyric is in service to the song, the album, and the listener.
A listen to the stunning “Bulletproof” featuring Delbert McClinton will give you a good idea of what is to come on the rest of the album. It is a song with a familiar and genre-true structure, yet it wards off monotony with interesting feel changes. These rhythm section changes are smooth, and welcomed to vary a straightforward song. The album is full of these interesting changes. Each song creates a familiar atmosphere that makes the listeners comfortable enough to dance, and as soon as this safety established, it is broken with a feel change that is exciting, new, and intriguing.
There are many simple, relatable, and to the point lyrics. “I Got to Go” is a perfect example of that. One glance at the title and you could guess what you’re getting with the song. A lesser writer could have titled this something longer, or had a more involved phrase that means “this really isn’t working out anymore and I’m moving on”. “I Got to Go” is something that many have said or heard, and there is no better way to convey exactly this idea.
Strip It Down utilizes instrumentation and arrangements found on a typical blues album, and revitalizes it with various horn parts. The bold choice to vary the instrumentation in this way raises the energy level and the level of intensity. The usage is not overbearing and does not even immediately draw the ear, however it does add an interesting and welcomed texture.
Strip It Down is a fun, grooving, relatable, and generous album. No one could find James’ voice anything but beautiful and pleasing. Casey James services his powerhouse vocals with exciting songs that never fall in energy throughout the entire album. Strip It Down has the potential to reach a wide range of individuals, and connect them through a mutual enjoyment of a strong album.
The Review: 8/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
– I Got to Go
– Fight You for the Blues
The Big Hit
Review by Alexandra Veltri