EP Review: James Perryman – The Narrow Gate

Delayed gratification may seem like a quaint notion these days, but some things are definitely still worth waiting for…

If the rapturous reception received at his recent EP launch show at The Finsbury is anything to go by, alt-country singer James Perryman has been much missed from the London circuit. Having made a name for himself a couple of years back with a series of well received EPs, shows and live work for his friends Angus & Julia Stone plus London duo The Honey Ants, he all but disappeared. Had he settled down to become a family man and got himself a dull day job? Well yes… yes he had. But he hadn’t hung up his guitar. Although busy with dad-duty, Perryman took full advantage of the few hours available to him to him each week (including in his lunch hours) to craft a meticulous clutch of new songs for his latest EP, The Narrow Gate.

It may seem trite to state, but fatherhood has brought about a greater maturity to Perryman’s song writing. Five perfect songs, erring on the side of the sublime and beautiful, but never dipping into the realm of the naff or the boring, mean that this is his strongest work yet. His live band – Tom Quillfeldt (bass), Rob Pennel (drums) and Olivia Coghill (vocals) – have all benefitted from the extra hours in the rehearsal room. The melodies are stronger, the musicianship more confident and the emotion in the vocals more raw than ever.

This is especially true of the EP opener, ‘My Lover’. While deceptively funky and driving, this is actually a heart-tearing plea for understanding perfectly bookended by closer ‘To Be For You’, an honest account of wanting to be a better man. These are not the songs of a teenager, smitten and insincere. They are songs borne of experience, hurt and hope. Over 23 minutes Perryman and his band take us on a stripped-back journey that may cut close to the bone but is all the better for it.

Welcome back James! As he declares on EP opener, ‘My Lover’, sometimes “it takes time”… but don’t leave it so long for the follow up, yeah?

Joyzine exclusive: watch the video for opening track ‘My Lover’:

Catch James Perryman live at the following dates:
Wednesday 18 July 2018 – Bar 512, Dalston

Wednesday 15 August 2018 – Harrison, Kings Cross
Friday 31 August 2018 – Thunderbird, West Hampstead

Review by Peter Adams

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