LO'S Album Pick of the Year - "Journey of a Thousand Miles" by Brian James & The Great Unknown


Originally featured on Inside MusiCast 

Brian James and The Great Unknown is a Seattle based Soul and R&B band that formed in the summer of 2018 by singer / songwriter Brian James.

Their debut album "Journey of a Thousand Miles" is a unique blend of sounds that are influenced by Soul, Funk, Jazz and R&B as well as good old AM Radio tunes from the 70's and beyond. So many influences can be heard in this fantastic album; Bill Withers, Al Green, Tower of Power, Bruce Hornsby, Chicago, Gerry Rafferty, John Mayer to name a few.

From the moment I heard this album, I was taken aback. The level of musicianship from a band made up of 4 members whose ages range from 26 to 50, is phenomenal.

The band members are:
Brian James singer / songwriter / vocals / guitars
Jim Barnes: keys / bass
Tyler Rogers: sax
Cyrus Zerbe: drums

Recording and producing were done by Bill Simpkins at Alpenglow Sound Studios. Bill has done an excellent job on this production. Not overdone. Just right.

Track List:
Journey Of A Thousand Miles
Keeping Up With The Joneses
Somebodies Someone
You Got Me Like
Trying To Breath Underwater


I have to be honest, from the first 10 seconds of the intro of the title track LITERALLY, I was hooked. And I had not even heard the vocals yet. And then those "Tower of Power" like horns come in. I didn't even have to listen to rest of the album to know that I was going to love it. And then BAM! That was it! I found I became obsessed with every song, listening to them over and over almost every day. Loving the old school style with today's vernacular and trends incorporated into the lyrics.

Every track is radio worthy. Once you get into the groove of each tune, you'll find there's a message within the lyrics as Brian's songwriting is very prolific. For example; the homegrown driven roots rock track; "Trying To Breath Underwater". Read this...

"From the day we’re born we’re told we can be anything we want
Then disappointed when the hand we’re dealt comes up as a loss
There's so much emphasis on what we’re doing wrong
Wanna close my eye cover my ears and scream because
Every time I turn around it’s something new
It doesn’t matter what you're trying to do cause
It’s a lot like trying to breathe underwater"

More importantly; the soulful 60's infused title track; "Journey Of A Thousand Miles," where Brian is the subject. Sharing his journey of going from nearly 500lbs to 340lbs in a very short amount of time, continuing with the weight loss as well as preparing for next year's Ironman Triathlon which will be held on the West Coast of Canada. Recognizing that it all starts with the mindset, not listening to the naysayers and staying the course.

And talk about romance!? Brian James makes those songs come alive with vocals that could melt ice cream. Especially with "Taken," where the intro makes me think of a Dove chocolate candy commercial and the sexy voice reels you in as you watch chocolate drizzling over the candy bar. Only the subject of the song is an attractive woman, whose man isn't jealous by all the attention she receives. In fact, he knows that she is fine with the attention because he states in the chorus that he doesn't have to worry cause SHE makes it known, HE's the one taking her home. Or the sexy / sensual anthem-like "Sanctuary," where staying in bed together is the right place to be on a cold, rainy day, finding happiness with not having to be anywhere but together enjoying each other.

It's no wonder that "Journey of A Thousand Miles" by Brian James and The Great Unknown is my personal pick for Album of The Year. I'm listening over and over as I write this up and the album continues to give me chills. I've no doubt that we will hear more from Brian James and The Great Unknown. And dare I say, they will be heard all over the world and on all major TV variety shows.

Congratulations to creating a debut album that for some artists, takes several releases to even get to this point. This is a fine project.

Happy Holidays!


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