Galen James is a mellow chap, or so it would appear. On his EP Big Blue Mix Tape, he folds pop, rock, jazz, blues, and R&B into an acoustic and heartfelt presentation. His previous effort, Love & Bad News was a bit more upbeat and leaned more towards pop. On this EP, he gets more introspective.
The lead-off track, “The Other Me,” is a good indicator of James’ modus operandi on this EP at least. Bluesy organ, punctuated by horns, with strummed guitar in the undertow, make this an enticing opener.
The guitars pick up slightly on “Looking Back,” providing a nice hook, and it’s here you can sense that James might be building toward something as he picks up the pace ever so slightly. But he hits cruise control on “Body Karate.” With that title, most listeners would probably expect a rockier track, but James keeps the groove smooth and easy.
“Stars” maintains the mood, but punches some guitar through the chorus, before returning to the piano-backed verses. A nearly identical version appears on Love & Bad News. “And now I’m doing it again, again and again and again/I’m looking at the stars again/And yet the stars, they never looked so far from me/Probably because you are,” James laments as horns come in on the second pass of the chorus. This is as rocky as it gets, but it’s kind of catchy and James effectively communicates his longing in this track.
You probably won’t be humming these tunes after your first listen, but you’ll likely find yourself returning to this collection.
8 Stars Out of 10
PF Wilson has been writing about music, TV, radio, and movies for over 20 years. He has also written about sports, business, and politics with his work appearing in Cincinnati CityBeat, The Houston Press, Cleveland Scene, Cincinnati Magazine, Cincy Magazine, Atomic Ranch, and many more. Check out his podcast PF’s Tape Recorder available from Podbean or in iTunes.