With Change Comes Challenges 

With Challenges Comes New Songs 

With Change Comes Challenges 

With Challenges Comes New Songs 

Like everyone, James has had his share of challenges. He was an energetic and creative child who was always daydreaming and displaying his imagination through acting and drawing. That of course was challenging for James’ academics. He struggled in school, expect in art class, in which he excelled. His imagination really sparked when, at 16 years old, a friend put a guitar in James’ hands. Right from the start, James didn’t take lessons and didn’t want to learn other people’s songs. He wanted to write his own songs, create his own characters and tell his own stories. Although a happy individual, he enjoyed writing about life’s struggles. James would pull from experiences that he saw happen to people around him. Stories of love, determination, cheating, abuse, and heartache. 

“Creating a song from nothing, then performing it with the same passion as the characters you wrote about, and then seeing how those songs touch others, is unbelievably rewarding.” 

After barely graduating high school, James’ drawings got him accepted into an Animation program. This was another huge challenge for James; he was one of the weakest. After a laborious two years he completed the course but was unhireable. Another challenge to face, which he did. James worked on his portfolio at night for a year and a half and eventually squeaked into a position at an animation studio, where again he was the weakest. Challenge accepted. James focused and his skills sharpened. 

While still passionately writing, recording, and performing his own music, James’ storytelling skills, along with his evolving drawing abilities, lead him to a successful career as a Storyboard Artist. His hard work paid off. From there, in 2007 he ended up co-founding Jam Filled Entertainment, an animation studio that now has 700 employees with offices in Ottawa, Toronto and Halifax. 

“Storyboarding has so many similarities to songwriting. The writing, the acting, the timing; all of which kept sharpening my songwriting skills.” 

Shortly after the release of his third solo album in 2015, These Weights, James took a long hiatus from recording and performing music for personal reasons…Reasons he now regrets. But in January 2020, James was slammed with the biggest challenge he had ever faced; his 23 year marriage came to a shocking and devastating end. How did James make it through? James dug deep and wrote songs that were from a place he had never been before. He wrote with new eyes, new ears, and new emotions. His songs now became personal as opposed to observational. 

“My sorrowful songs were always written from a fictional place or as a witness to others pain. Now it was my sorrow, my pain, my wound, and it caused my pen to bleed ink and my guitar to cry chords.” 

That healing process, along with new experiences and eventually a new relationship, caused James’ song writing well to overflow with material that has amounted to a staggering 68 songs. 

James headed into the recording studio with and recorded with producer, Phillip Victor Bova. The new recordings boast the talents of guitarist Kevin Breit(Norah Jones), drummer Ed Toth(Doobie Bros), guitarist/pianist John Fraser Findlay(Juno nominee), harmonicist Mickey Raphael(Nelson/Dylan/Young/Stapleton, etc) and other talented local musicians.

The first single, Things That I Said, was released Aug 4th, 2023 followed by a song a month until the well goes dry. But with the down pouring of inspiration he has felt since the 2015 damming, the flood of new material will not reside for a long time. 

The next challenge is to have these songs heard. 

“Things That I Said is not only my first new single in 8 years but it’s also a rebirth and return to doing what I love, the challenge of telling a good story.”