May 11, 2006
Peter James is a singer-songwriter who plays 8- and 10-string guitars. On Footnotes to Fairytales, he is joined by fretted and fretless guitarist David Lofton, Chapman Stick and electric-upright bass player Daniel Panasenko, and cellist Marika Hughes—making for a string-filled listening experience. Rounding out the group are drummer-percussionist Gino Robair and tabla player Jim Santi Owen. This is gentle but subtly energetic music, full of gorgeous instrumental interplay and memorable vocal melodies—and upon first listen, it is easy to miss the intricacies of the interlocking guitars, the delicate yet effective percussive touches, and single-line textural elements that blend seamlessly into a shimmering harmonic whole.
James’ voice has been rightly compared to those of David Sylvian and Morrissey, as it contains both the soft-spoken intimacy of the former and the elegant desperation of the latter. His lyrics are compact, introspective, and highly personal—presenting clusters of images rather than opting
for the more usual folk narrative style. My favorite pieces are the delightfully buoyant “Angels and Aeroplanes,” and the poly-rhythmic “Save Yourself,” which manages to add a 5/4 outro section without sounding the least bit proggy. (Peter James Music).