Vancouver-native singer-songwriter Justin James’s forthcoming album, Islands, is Caribbean vacation wrapped up in musical swimsuit and sunscreen. His classic raspy, pop vocals, reminiscent of James Taylor and Jason Mraz, fills every song with soul and sun-soaked warmth. Combine that with the tropical-influenced sounds of the Dominican Republic, his adopted home, and the result is a stellar, toe-tapping soundtrack that is built to cruise the sun-drenched beaches where the songs were written.
“Drinking Song” is James’s attempt to recreate the classic alcohol-fueled Jimmy Buffett song, “Margaritaville.” Not sure what it is about those Caribbean islands inspiring songs about the noggin fogging liquid, but whatever it is it will continue to draw people in. And “Drinking Song” will not discourage travelers to partake in the festivities.
The first single off Islands is the eternal love song, “Last Puzzle Piece.” While the subject is pretty obvious and generic, James successfully pulls it off by infusing the ukulele, which is not utilized enough in today’s music, along with traditional Latin beats to differentiate his sound.
This acoustic, tropical pop album should be in everyone’s collection for those laid back summer days that calls for relaxing and sipping on an icy drink. Combine Islands with some Jack Johnson, Colbie Caillat, and piña colada and that is an inexpensive mental vacation.
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