James White & The Wild Fire are a country-blues outfit from Saffron Walden, Essex fronted by James White, a man formerly nominated as an emerging talent by no less than Glastonbury Festival. Their debut EP Making Tracks is a four-track showcase of their sound.
By Graeme Smith
It’s a classic folk sound with the energy of country. The instrumentals are constructed from guitar, double bass, banjo, harmonica and cajon so you should get an idea of what to expect from that list alone. What sets them apart for me though are their atmospheric melodies and poetic lyricism.
Album opener Don’t Look Back is a dark, brooding number that skips along through its percussion and bass while the harmonica floats in and out like snatches of memory. The vocals are fiery and the lyrics are loaded with a sense of frustration.
Take Me Home takes things in a blues direction and transported me to a late-night bar full of desperate men. Just as you get settled into its 12-bar-blues there is an expected broken down interlude before echoing electric guitar gives the track a psychedelic edge.
Track three is James White & The Wild Fire’s version of the classic folk song Where Did You Sleep Last Night. They pack a lot of atmosphere into it, with ghostly, echoing vocals and mournful harmonica throughout, leading to a passionate climax.
The final track is a cover of Tyler Childers’ Whitehouse Road and it injects some energy back into proceedings with a bouncing bass line and steadily-strummed guitar. The instrumentals stay blues and country but the melody feels indie rock, particularly in the chorus.
James White & The Wild Fire are a band who know their sound and perform it well. It’s already been enough to get them noticed, having been picked up by BBC Radio 2 among others, but Making Tracks is a great introduction for anyone who hasn’t heard them before. There’s a classic timelessness to their sound and their delivery really connects with the listener.
You can check out Making Tracks below.