Produced by the same man who recorded the Fray’s first two albums, the self-titled Brendan James is full of pleasant, anonymous piano pop, with nary an out-of-place note or personal quirk in attendance. James is a natural assimilator, and he cribs from David Gray, James Taylor, and Coldplay on this 11-track album, whose biggest strength is its similarity to the records written by James’ influences. He continues to sing with a British accent, too, an affectation that seems to illustrate a complete inability for James -- who grew up in New Hampshire -- to be himself in the studio. That being said, the material is quicker and far more inspired than 2008’s The Day Is Brave, and the arrangements turn the songs into lush, open-armed anthems, with light electronics and computerized blips-and-bloops adding texture. He’s getting better, and there’s definitely an audience for this material. Most of the album confuses mimicry with melody, though, and the fact that James writes a David Gray song as well as Gray himself doesn’t change the fact that this is, in effect, slickly produced pastiche.
Brendan James Review
by Andrew Leahey