On first impressions, you would never think that James TW is only seventeen years old. He speaks with an articulate eloquence which carries through in his incredibly relatable song writing, a tremendous skill to possess alone. Not only does James TW have an honest way with words, he has commendable musical talent on several instruments which stretches far beyond the expectations of his years. He grew up in a small English village, and having recently been signed to the famous label Island Records, James has an interesting, unique story which led him into music.
There came a day that his father’s band’s drummer wasn’t able to make it to a show, (his father plays guitar in a wedding band as a hobby) and having come home one day to find James banging on a drum kit, it was up to James to fill the spot. “It was either let the ten-year-old play or cancel the gig”, James remembers. “So they let me play and I just fell in love with performing“. Following that, he picked up a guitar at the age of twelve, taught himself piano at the age of thirteen, and began to post cover songs on Youtube. Since then, he has gained a widely spread following which continues to grow, gaining more fans with every show.
At Notting Hill Arts Club, as yellow and gold lights shimmered and sprinkled against the walls to the sound of James TW, the audience was touched with a warming ambience. The first song he played was called “Sanctuary“, which consisted of an impressive layering of loops, giving the impression that James was accompanied by other musicians on stage (he was an impressive one-man band) with deep vocals soaring across the melody, creating a John Mayer-esque summer sound.
“Make Up Sex” followed, altering the atmosphere with a little more groove and soul in the expression of his lyrics, “Is this really all that we’ve become?“, particularly in the bridge with slower vocals before breaking into the final chorus.
At the third song, “Black And Blue“, James changed to his acoustic guitar, and even encouraged some audience participation to join in singing along to the chorus. He successfully used his guitar in alternative stylistic ways, by creating his own tapping rhythm between strums. This was followed by an impressive, soulful cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition”, which demonstrated his notable guitar skills as the melody was fast and intricate, with more layering sounds on the loop machine.
The next song was certainly one to remember. As James moved to the piano, introducing his original song called “Different“, the audience was not only captivated by the strong vocal performance but also the tender, heartfelt lyrics as he sang about his subject who should be proud to be individual and not be afraid to be different: “Let the whole world see that you’re still free“. Remaining on the piano, James then played another original love song called “Just Because“, yet another demonstration of his memorable, warming melodies combined with heartfelt, honest lyrics: “I’ll do it just because I love you“.
Having now demonstrated his musical versatility on several instruments, he then changed back to his guitar to play a particularly special original song called “Love Someone“, which has a particularly heart-warming creation story. The inspiration came from a time when James used to teach kids to play the drums. He was told that one child’s parents were getting divorced, and so James wrote a song about how the child would have to learn to adjust to something he can’t really understand at a young age. With deeper vocals, light guitar riffs, and moving lyrics about growing up, James creates a comforting coming of age lullaby almost, with his voice eventually exploding powerfully and passionately, filling the room with his soulful sound, pulling on the heart strings of the audience.
James ended the set with “What’s His Name” which evidently had a more mischievous vibe to begin with, however, it alters to a sense of pleading strong vocals before reaching a higher level of extremely high, impressive vocals, once again combined with intricate guitar playing. This song is ideal in demonstrating the full range of his impressive vocals which inspired the audience, and ended the set accordingly.
It is clear to see that, even at such a young and promising age, James TW has already developed so much potential from his natural talent. He is driven, passionate and incredibly mature, speaking with an authority which comes naturally to very few. James TW is an old soul, and with hard work and luck that he needs in such an industry, perhaps he can one day live up (in his own right) to the success of his parents’ musical hero James Taylor, whom he is named after. James TW’s music is authentic, relatable and of an incredible standard, regardless of James’ age, which continues to lead him along a very exciting career path to potential future success.
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Words by Lauren Hurrell