Saturday 24 August 2019

Could Dublin's Gavin James become the new Adele following debut album Bitter Pill?

Gavin James - Bitter Pill review

Gavin James during the Windmill Lane Sessions Photo: Kyran O'Brien
Gavin James during the Windmill Lane Sessions Photo: Kyran O'Brien

Eamon Carr

We're suckers for a fairytale ending, right?

So the story of the Dublin postman’s son who went from playing three-hour sets in noisy pubs to becoming the latest Sultan of Sob, working with Adele’s producer and touring with Sam Smith, has the right amount of sparkle to persuade the Grinch to dance the Nae Nae.

You’ll know that Gavin James went from gigging in Whelans to supporting Ed Sheeran at Croker and Taylor Swift in Hyde Park.

It was in Whelans one night that he threw in a selection of covers that included The Magnetic Fields’ The Book of Love, which had also been recorded by Peter Gabriel in 2004. Gabriel’s interpretation added a hint pathos to the romance.

With just electric guitar for company, Gavin gives it wellie. His vocal acrobatics make people swoon. He writes his own songs too. But it’s his big voice that dominates. His is an instrument that speaks of puppy dog’s eyes, chocolate box cover art and sinners on their knees, pleading for entry into heaven. That’s the good news.

The title track comes with the synth-pop punch of Manchester duo Hurts. It’s widescreen and monumental. But somewhat anaemic.

Emotionally, Gavin sounds as if he’s stuck in first gear. His pain, manicured. His pleading, unlike his mentor Sam Cooke, verging on bleating.

On 22, you might wonder how one young man can muster so much angst. “I remember the cold, cold morning… and I was dreaming I was 22.”

I suspect Gavin could sing the phonebook and as he teases out the metaphysical implication of his lyrical assertion, “Love don’t wait in line”, on I Don’t Know Why, I wish he’d try.

Most of these 13 cacophonous tracks will fit well on radio, so it’s a given that Gavin’s fairytale ending is only just beginning.

Check out Gavin James playing live at the Windmill Lane Sessions.

Gavin James adds third Olympia date for January due to demand


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