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ARTIST REVIEW: James Taylor-Watts

From the Booth :: 10.26.17
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By Emily Harrison

James Taylor-Watts is just like any other teenager, except he has a special gift. The British 19-year-old singer and songwriter has slowly risen from the depths of the internet into stardom. Since he was a young boy, TW has always had a passion for music. Luckily, he is a naturally gifted guitarist. He picked it up at 12 years old and began playing the piano the following year. As he honed in on his skills through the years and became a multi-instrumentalist, he started posting cover songs on YouTube.

After being discovered on YouTube by teen heart-throb, Shawn Mendes, James TW released his first EP “Just A Number” in 2014. He has recently signed to the iconic label, Island Records, along with Shawn Mendes. TW is one of the youngest artists that the label has signed, yet he has managed to develop his own unique sound, which is a combination of jazz and blues guitar.

TW was inspired by artists such as John Mayer and Jamie Cullum, along with Bill Withers and B. B. King. He aims to emulate the vocal nuances of soul music and guitar riffs of modern blues. However, he is not limited to just those genres, as he is just as capable of producing beautiful ballads like Ed Sheeran, another one of his musical influences. He is also an undeniable romantic, which is highlighted in many of the subjects of his songs.

I discovered his single, “Black & Blue”, which was released in 2015, and have been listening to it on repeat for weeks. The song is very mature in its lyrics, and he talks about not wanting to bruise his heart as opposed to breaking hearts. Instead of going out and partying, he wants to stay with his special someone and enjoy his time with that person. This bluesy ballad lands somewhere in between John Mayer and James Bay with its unrelenting honesty and raw sound. He features his skills in many of his songs that highlight him and his guitar. Another one of my favorites is “Sanctuary”, off of his 2016 album, First Impressions. This has a little more of an upbeat tone that coincides with pop music today.

In a business made for flashy performances and artificial sounds, TW stands out from the rest with his original and soulful sound.

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