26 May 2022

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James Constable - Album Review: Tui

06 Jul 2021 // A review by Madeleine Howard
Indie singer/songwriter James Constable has launched his debut album, Tui.

The 17-year-old from Rangiora showcases an incredible knack for writing mature lyrics and catchy melodies. In 2018 James won the Hook, Line and Sing Along national songwriting competition with his song The Smell of Sunscreen, which gave him the opportunity to record the track at Roundhead Studios. From performing at small open mics to larger shows such as the North Canterbury Wine and Food Festival alongside Anika Moa, James is making waves in the Christchurch music scene. As well as singing, James is a talented multi-instrumentalist, playing guitar, drums, bass and piano.

Taking inspiration from a range of artists including The Beatles, The Beach Boys and The Smiths, James writes wonderful jangly guitar hooks reminiscent of the Dunedin sound. Combined with thoughtful, mature lyrics that touch on subject matters well outside the mind of a typical teenager, James' debut is a strong introduction to this young artist.

The album is full of triumphant, jangle pop tracks. Highlights include album opener and lead single Good Morning Beautiful, uplifting, rhythmically driven Maria, Let Him Go, and my personal favourite Social Butterfly, with its catchy electric guitar riff evocative of R.E.M's guitar riff in Shiny Happy People. Slower, thoughtful tracks such as Wives At Home and Last of the Summer Skies help break up the constant more upbeat tracks, resulting in an album with plenty of variety.

Production is clean and crisp, staying true to the authenticity of the music. James' vocals are pure and clear, but really shine when he sings in his upper register. In the final chorus in Love Is Gonna Win Out and the final line of the chorus in Good Morning Beautiful, to name a couple of examples, the shift in vocal register really helps to lift the tracks. In future projects, I hope James continues to showcase his upper register even more, as the higher melodies show off his vocal abilities.

James is a wonderfully talented musician with a truly unique sound and a strong sense of artistry. The future looks bright for this budding singer-songwriter, and I look forward to seeing what else he has to offer listeners in the future.

Rating: ( 4 / 5 )

About James Constable

James Constable is an indie singer/songwriter from New Zealand. He is that introverted nerd in the back of the room, who, by blending the music of old with the mindset of today, hopes to create songs that help give people a sense of place in the world.

James has made a bit of a splash in the local music scene over the past year and a half, having gone from playing small open mics, to playing large events such as the North Canterbury Wine And Food Festival, alongside the likes of Anika Moa. His EP Sunshine Over Britain, has gained upwards of 500 streams on Spotify, and it’s lead single Out From Under Water received almost 1000 views on YouTube alone, and many more on Facebook and Spotify. He has also received music awards on the national stage, being selected as the winner of the Hookline and Singalong songwriting competition (run by the New Zealand Music Commission) in 2018, as well as being a finalist in the Lions Songwriting Competition the year before.

James’ music is influenced by a variety of artists, ranging from the clean 60's pop of the Beatles, the Beach Boys, and the Byrds, to the grittier, but just as jangly 80's and 90's alternative rock scene, including The Chills, REM, The Mutton Birds, and, most of all, the Smiths. By walking a fine line between old-time nostalgia and modern pop sensibility, he is sure to bring something to the table for everyone to enjoy.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for James Constable


Year: 2021
Type: Album

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