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All Over The Map
Nora Jane Struthers
James Leva and Purgatory Mountain release fourteen tunes and songs including several originals by James, traditional tunes from Galax / /Mt. Airy, West Virginia, Virginia and Kentucky.
James: Fiddle, Guitar and Lead and Harmony Vocals; Al Tharp: Banjo, Bass, Lead and Harmony Vocals; Danny Knicely: Mandolin, Guitar, Harmony Vocals; Matty Olwell: Cajon, Hambone, Fiddlesticks, Feet, and Foot Stomp.
James' CD, "Til I Know", is on Copper Creek Records. David Greely and Sam Broussard (you might know them from Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys) helped co-produce the recording. It features 13 original tunes and songs and musicians from Louisiana and Virginia, including David and Sam, Cajun pedal steel legend Rodney Miller, Kevin Wimmer, Kyle Hebert, Mark Schatz, Larry Keel, Spencer Lathrop and Johnny Gilmore on drums and percussion, David Winston and Will Lee on banjo, and Camp Mountain members Danny Knicely and Kristin Andreassen.
Memory Theatre "not only fuses old-time and Gaelic sounds into something new, it shivers and reels with an energy that frequently approaches that of rock'n'roll." - No Depression Magazine
Jones and Leva's recording, featuring John Reischman on mandolin combines nine Jones and Leva originals with their versions of five traditional pieces. Original songs include "Something Shall Remain," "Vertie's Dream," and "The Man In Me." Traditional songs include "Dip Your Fingers In Some Water" and "Minister's Farewell." In her notes for this album, Suzanne Thomas writes: "To my ears, Jones and Leva are the best vocal duet on the scene today..."
Thirteen Jones and Leva originals including "She Could Have Loved Him," "Drunkard's Lantern," "Satan I Won't Be Your Servant No More," and "Hosanna." The Boston Herald said of this recording "The gorgeous retro-country duo Jones and Leva have skills and spirit that equal any traditionalist singers alive ... It's some of the prettiest, most vivid music made in 1998."
I was no more a fan of simple, elegant songs of loss than I was of any other kind, so I was startled by what came over me when I heard "Where Did You Go?" from Jones and Leva's Journey Home. Here is a man, I thought, who can get blood on the walls while singing about bird songs. And of course he wasn't singing about birds - great songwriters don't just sing about birds, they push their image through the bones of your chest until you feel perhaps a little something of the fire in the guts that Saint Teresa of Avila felt in her vision of being pierced by an angel's spear.
Maybe I'm over the top here, but this thing passing through our bones the hard way is why musicians still play, songwriters still write and listeners still listen. I'm in it for the glory myself, but still, I've noticed even in the midst of all the glory and Riviera vacations that life gets harder as we age. I guess it's just a matter of constantly updating our coping skills.
When James gets up from the floor - dusty but defiant and happy to be here with the rest of us - he writes. Others do it, but few of them can tell stories like James can. He starts with tradition - and there are several of them on this album - but he ends by putting you there, and all of a sudden you are the child in "Family Again," or the hopeful voice in "The Music's Over," both contained herein. The stories are wrapped within the organic traditions that James the musician commands so well, but in the end it's going straight in, and I never care how it got there.
- Sam Broussard
“James and Carol Elizabeth know and respect the deep roots of country music. Their original songs reflect and magnify those sounds and themes,offering the listener an essential modern perspective”
- Tim O’Brien