JAMES COX & THE WEST STREET GABLES – The High Road
Originally hailing from the Cambrian mountains of mid-Wales, London-based singer/songwriter, James Cox, and his band, the West Street Gables, have produced a delightful debut outing with this 4 track EP, “The High Road”. Cox is a man with many strings to his bow. Despite having fronted rock and metal acts over the years, he has been writing and performing his own acoustic tracks on the side since the age of 13, and, now backed by an assortment of friends and musicians based both in the country and the city, this may be his finest achievement to date.
Opener L Train Blues is a lively start to proceedings with banjo, guitars and violins creating a busy soundscape to accompany Cox’s tale of New York heart-break with a surprisingly uplifting vibe. Sweeping vocal harmonies, reminiscent of highly acclaimed acts such as Fleet Foxes and Mumford and Sons, adorn the verses and the chorus is so gloriously accessible, you wont be able to resist singing along despite being lyrically sullen (“So finally there’s a train to take me far away from you/Cos frankly I am sick of getting L train blues”).
The Fruit Man portrays Cox in higher spirits, as he pays a simple and warming tribute to his father, Peter Cox, a television and theatre writer who recently received an MBE in the New Years honours list for his services to local communities.
Hide, is a stark contrast to the previous two tracks’ uplifting country splendour. Book-ended by a beautifully delivered, a cappella, male/female vocal duet, the track builds from an unaccompanied, bleak lament into a stirring testament of love and loss complete with guitar solos and rousing violin lines, Cox all the while trying to discover where it all went wrong (“Why did you choose a way to end that shook me through my very soul?/Why did you choose to break my heart in a way that I could never do”).
Final track, David, appears to be the last act of the story that began with L Train Blues. Cox is alone with his acoustic guitar, save for a sporadic vocal harmony, and it is here that we find him at his most aggressive, mulling over the perpetrators of his failed relationship that resonates across most of the EP (“Oblivious to all, I even gave him my respect, I wish I would have known/I could’ve asked him how he felt about what he had done to me, asked if it made him happy and if it helped him sleep”), eventually reaching a damning conclusion (“You both deserve each other anyway/I hope you burn in Hell”).
All in all, this is an exciting debut from a multi-talented group of musicians. Led by the enigmatic Cox, and with folk and country acts currently experiencing a resurgence in popularity in a market saturated by club-pop and R&B, we will hopefully be hearing a lot more of these guys in times to come.
Debut single “L Train Blues” will be available for download purchase via Howl Club Records on the 23rd May 2011.
(Written by Nathan Williams)