Comparing one singer to another is an odious task, and the promo blitz motoring It’s Not Enough to Love places this poor French-girl-cum-Detroiter behind the eight ball by touting her as an alterna Petula Clark or Linda Ronstadt.
Who needs that shit?
Truth be told, though, this record sonically resembles Detroit’s deserving-more-attention Volebeats, as the record is produced by Matthew Smith, who’s also responsible for many guitar tracks contained herein. In fact, Smith’s apt skills are all over the thing, from the neo-surfin’ spaghetti Western guit to the hushed restraint of the production. Volebeats’ bassist Russell Ledford holds down the bottom too, and the record is enhanced by Come-Ons/Dirtbombs sticksman Pat Pantano. To continue the made-in-Detroit thread, there’s supporting roles by 313 linchpins Jim Diamond and Troy Gregory.
As a little girl, James’ parents brought her up on French pop phenom Françiose Hardy, which, perhaps, begets a side helping of Serge Gainsbourg too.
It shows. Unlike, say, Timi Yuro, who shouts her hurtin’ to the outside world, Miss James defers to a much more subtle approach, where both love and heartache are fused into a lush blurred sound.
In one sense, the record’s approach is very Euro, French if you must, but Detroit’s French connection has become sublimated over the past 300 and some years. We speak French without knowing it. No?
Screw nationalism, though. It’s nothing but trouble. Just look at the Balkans. Music is, after all, a world language and Denise James speaks it well.
To cap: The comely carrot-top wrote all 10 songs here, which run the good-to-absolutely brilliant gamut. Think a little left of Dusty Springfield.
E-mail Michael Murphy at email@example.com.