Following a year that introduced him to international success, James McCartney is already headed towards an exciting and unprecedented 2013.
McCartney is fresh off the release of his two digital-only EPs, Available Light and Close At Hand, as well as his first physical release, The Complete EP Collection, a special two-disc set produced by David Kahne and Paul McCartney that includes the debut EPs in their entirety along with five bonus tracks. Now in the studio once again, James McCartney is preparing to release what will be his first full-length album in 2013, accompanied by major US and European tours.
The US tour will bring McCartney to over 50 cities coast-to-coast as he performs a unique solo-acoustic show of never-before-heard material mixed with fan favorites. Accompanying himself on guitar and piano, McCartney's soaring vocals, songwriting, and musicianship are highlighted in this intimate and powerful setting.
The success of The Complete EP Collection catapulted McCartney to national awareness in America with his U.S. television debut on The Late Show with David Letterman. McCartney followed with his first tour of North America. Of McCartney's performances The NY Daily News writes: “An infectious set . . . [he] has clearly forged a winning sound of his own.” The Boston Globe adds: “. . . the younger McCartney’s promising pop-rock tunes make clear he’s learned a few lessons about melody, phrasing, and charm.”
Looking forward to the thrilling year ahead, the next phase of his career is beginning to take shape and McCartney's goals are clear. “Some artists are happy doing the same thing again and again, but my favorite artists are the ones who evolve and grow, and I want to be one of them." With a new album and multiple tours on the way in 2013, James McCartney continues raise the stakes, and in doing so he succeeds in filling some very big shoes . . . his own.
Cold Weather, the haunting album by electric troubadour Benny Marchant, is the sound of a hopeful heart that's bruised but still beating. Painting the stages of love and loss, Benny's emotional alternative folk-rock, sweetened with pedal steel, a horn section and his own delicate guitar, is his coming of age as a solo artist. Produced by Joe Chicarelli (Radiohead, White Stripes), using his crew of dynamite musicians, Cold Weather explores the slight but revealing gestures that shape our emotional life. Proud as any new father, Benny exclaims, "As an entirety, it's the best project I've ever been part of."
For Benny, this recording is the culmination of a lifetime's commitment -- to make his own very individual melodic contribution, one that encourages the listener not to be afraid, to keep growing. Benny began writing the songs when he was living in Nashville in 2006, while he was refining his own sound after leaving his popular DC band, NRG, and he kept on writing even through Cold Weather's recording process. So these songs chart Benny's own development -- and the cycles that we all experience.
"For me, these songs tell a story, of a time when I was happy and sad, but life was wonderful. It's a five year span of memories in which I traveled across America, fighting for that dream, which is to keep creating something you love. Even in the sad songs, or those dealing with tough subjects, like “Conversations Missed” and “Over and Over,” there's a sense of completion. It's not a closing statement on that part of my life, because I'm still processing that period, but for me, these songs signify some sort of acceptance or understanding."
Subtlety and atmosphere mark songs like “Best Friend” and “Small Breed,” which memorably acknowledges the sort of intimacy that helps make life viable. "For me, the best part about recording Cold Weather as a solo artist was being able to be vulnerable," says Benny. "When I was in bands and in the studio I used to hide some of my soul behind the music and sounds. Now I'm not trying to fit in with anyone else but me -- a new me."
All Benny's songs confront not just his, but all of our human awakenings and growth -- whether it's the determined positivity of the lonely man in “Conversations Missed,” who makes himself reach for light in his darkness; “Been Too Long”’s realization that it's finally right to get out of a bad situation; the exultation of allowing yourself to give and receive love in the breezy “Cold Weather;” and the wake-up call of the vibrato cello in “A Better Way”'s reminder that yes, you can recover from a broken heart -- and now's the time to start.
In Cold Weather, Benny claims his own personal, emotional sound. The process was eased by the collaboration with producer Chicarelli. "He’s a genius," states Benny emphatically. "He helped bring the songs to life and put the pieces together so that ten really good songs grew into an album. He gave me the confidence to go deep."
That hard-won self-awareness and Benny's ability to turn raw emotional realities into tuneful songs are the result of a musical journey in search of his most authentic voice. Testing his boundaries as he went, Benny moved first from his native Maryland to Washington, then to Nashville, and finally, Malibu, where he still lives beside his beloved ocean that he hymns so brightly on the song, “California.”
In Los Angeles, Benny found his greatest acclaim to date, founding the alternative rock band, Kings Royal. They reigned at hotspots like the Whisky, had a residency at the Viper Room and recorded a well-received album, Beginning. In 2008, Kings Royal toured extensively in support of fellow alt-rockers, Candlebox, whose Kevin Martin was a fan; the two bands even shared musicians. However, juggling dual commitments proved impossible, and Kings Royal broke up the following year. The split created an opportunity for Benny to pursue the sound he'd dreamed of since discovering his grandfather's guitar in his parents' Annapolis attic while he was still a high school lacrosse player. Teaching himself chords from a book, Benny started practicing songs he heard on the radio. Soon he was taping his own compositions.
Lacrosse skills scored Benny his first European gigs, playing in matches while attending Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland; but his real major was music. With friends, he formed a jam band called NRG whose popularity became Benny's apprenticeship, gigging all around the DC area.
After graduation, NRG split as the schoolmates went their separate ways. But Benny couldn't abandon music and boldly plunged into the unknown, producing his own album, Teller, on a studio he set up in his parents' garage in 2004. "It was the first time I realized you could hire musicians for sessions! I had to learn how to get things done," he laughs. "Teller became my resume." Despite its limited distribution, Teller's cult following has kept on growing; and now a Teller track, “Alone,” features on a British TV show.
Encouraged by his local success, Benny packed his life into his battered black Suburban SUV and hit the highway. Destination: Los Angeles, to hone his own sound.
"But on my way to L.A., I stopped in Nashville," remembers Benny. “Sometimes you get to a place and don't want to leave it. It seemed really right to be there." Indeed, Benny scored a local radio hit with the bright, pop sound of his “My Next Ex-Girlfriend.” But its success only reinforced Benny's feeling that he still had to hit his own right note. So back he hopped into the old SUV, and completed his Hollywood journey.
Los Angeles was good to Benny. The Kings Royal experience led to Cold Weather, a great new stage in a journey that will position Benny Marchant as a singer-songwriter to make his generation know their own hearts.
"Today, when I listen back to Teller, which I recorded on my own in my parents' garage, it brings back memories of that time, but I still find something new in the songs," says Benny. "It's the same with Cold Weather; as I rehearse and perform it, the songs keep resonating deeper for me."
Ardently, Benny concludes, "I've been working my whole life to be this happy with my own music. I'm always going to be competitive with myself to write that next song, whether it's inspired by my own life experience or something I imagine through a friend's or loved one's eyes. I'll always be searching, reaching further."