Brendan James

The Day is Brave

What if James Blunt and Tracy Chapman had a son in New Hampshire who went to college in North Carolina, wrote songs in L.A., moved to New York and caught the ear of Carly Simon? Well, there’d have to be cloning or a time machine involved, but you’d end up with a guy like Brendan James—a singer/songwriter whose debut album, The Day is Brave, is simply gorgeous in the best sense of both those words. His voice is a mix of Blunt and Chapman: always rich, with ethereal moments. His melodies, lyrics and arrangements evoke Simon, too, without copying. Take the first line of the first song, “Green”: “Zeppelin never left her, never died or second-guessed her.” Or, this passage from “The Sun Will Rise”: “This day will make this heart a fortune / from the fruit of a hundred orchards / from the water rivers bring” (accompanied by piano and acoustic guitar, the backbone of many of the tracks). Call it emo folk, beatnik pop, sensitive rock—The Day is Brave is deep, poetic, soul-touching … and, despite all the comparisons, undeniably unique.