Is that the rain on

by Jack James

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When we last left our hero, just over a year ago, he had released a collection of songs focussed on the concept of "Leaving Town". This time round things are a bit more settled and feature a smörgåsbord of ideas including the weather, board games and political assassinations.

"Is that the rain on" opens with the deceptively simple "Hours away from rain", and gently leads the listener through to songs like "Three names" and “Matchmaker” and "Letter in the drawer", which are as deep as anything previously released by Jack James. The important difference here is the control, everything is precision, the delivery is powerful, unrestrained yet calming, and additional instrumentation is well-harnessed. This is the 4th album in as many years from the Glasgow songwriter and while the musical growth is obvious, the biggest wildcard is the experimental aspects, both essential and potentially alienating at once.

This includes, completely new to the repertoire, four instrumental pieces woven throughout the album, which comprise of banjo and piano solos. The recording of these instruments, as well as the vocals and guitar on all the tracks, were all executed in a single uninterrupted take, giving a live feeling to the performances. The album is steeped in mood and such aesthetic choices are critical to setting the scene, similar to the effects of the rain mentioned in the title. The instrumentation used is not simply a gimmick, many songs that feature the banjo, or for the first time the accordion, are integral to the melody. The result of which leaves the album stylistically somewhere between The Decemberists and Damien Jurado; if that sounds interesting, this album is certainly worth your time.


released February 10, 2013

Written: July 2010 – November 2012
Recorded: 18th November – 21st December 2012
Location: Glasgow, Scotland, UK

All songs written and recorded by Jack James

Jack James - Vocal, Banjo, Acoustic Guitar, Bass, Piano, Accordion, Violin, Noise
Gavin Crawford - Percussion




Jack James Glasgow

Rangy songwriter.

“From Neil Young... by way of Bonnie "Prince" Billy, to Arab Strap, without the charming vulgarity”
-The Herald

"Sounding more like a Scottish Leonard Cohen than ever"
-Scots Whay Hae

"Jack James may be doomed"
-The List
... more

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Track Name: Hours away from rain
Looks like hours away from rain
Looks like hours away from rain
Looks like hours away from rain

Let's go walking anyway
Let's go walking anyway
Let's go walking anyway

Don't want to stay
Don't want to stay
Don't want to stay
Track Name: Letter in the drawer
A feeling of numbness, you're asking why
It's not a lack of motivation nor a willingness to try
So come on let's try, let's analyse, you're good at that, let's do that
Another weakness to magnify, you'll enjoy that, focus on the facts

You've put a man on the case, a letter in the drawer
A first-class detective, now he's on your floor
He's on his hands and knees, could you speak up please
Your words could be taken differently depending where you put the emphasis in the sentence
See, you hadn't thought of this

Your silent protector, the soldier with his pen
He's writing home to see if you'll meet him once again
Though it's not what is seems, if you heard him speaking
You would see that his words taken on duality of meaning
And the schemes that he's scheming may take you to places
That will make you nervous and change your perspective
Track Name: Matchmaker
You like the books that I've read and talking about what they meant
You wear the colours I like, in the fabrics and fashions all twirling in the night

Should I like you now?
Given half a chance, I'd watch you dance

You like that band I know, mate's the guitarist, got tickets to the show
See you there, the one that stares

You've heard of that director before, liked his last work, can't wait for more
Yeah, we must be a match
But it don't work like that

Yeah, I think we met long ago, I'm trying to remember, tell me more
Yeah, it's all coming back, you can call me Jack
Track Name: Mouse trap
I need a new game to play
I need some rules
Your game was old, I threw the board away

We need some help, ages 8-12
I'll be the shoe, you'll be the car
And something else, we need a sense of self
That's right you said: shoe and car

You roll the dice, I will move your piece
I know exactly where you are
Why can't we play nice, the shoe and the car?

I don't need a throw, I don't need a clue
I just need one guess
I'm ready to solve, I think it was you
In your room with your brain

What are we to do, the car and the shoe?
Our moves are squares on a map
What are we to do, we are trapped
Track Name: Inventing memories
Someone's gonna have to write this down again
I've been living in three year stretches and next month this one ends
I can't remember what's been going through my head one week to the next
And I wrote it down but it doesn't help
I can't relate to myself six months ago, or probably six months from now

Turn it over, pass it here, don't let it slip away
What have we here? Your secret identity
For acting out lives in your mind
Tell me, does it help? Or do you just second guess yourself?

Keep your head down, just try to get by
Your invention never made it and I think that you know why
You play your games when you're alone
I wish that I could be as happy as you seem
Track Name: Glasgow swagger
Track Name: Harvey Cushing
Track Name: Three names
I wrote a speech today, and in it I said everyone was gonna be OK
I gripped the microphone tight, and I cleared my throat before I sprayed out my lies

I raised my arms above, and accepted the admiration and love, from the crowd
And as I passed through them, their praise was thundering in my ears, but then

Did I say something right? I think so
Did I say something right? I...
Is everything gonna be alright?

I'm going to march today, I'm going to march until everything is OK
And as he parades through the crowd, I'll have my chance to say
I'll tell him what I have to say, I'll tell him what I have to say

Did I do something right? I think so
Did I do something right? I...
Is everything gonna be alright?
Is everything gonna be alright?
Track Name: Blue grass
In the blue grass I'll find them all
Entrenched in the marina, enclosed by a fence
Bathed in a light of various wavelengths

They slip through your hand in some kind of sequence
Fibonacci-esque but no to the Nth
If there's a natural base then I guess that makes sense

They weren't built for up here
They weren't built for up here
They weren't built for up here
they weren't built at all

Flying through the blue grass in spite of all the odds
Moving in formation, separated in squads
But this is not an army, there is not a boss
Track Name: Litheme
Track Name: Bedside detectives
I once had detectives at my bedside
Reading me questions in a language they had yet to decide
I did not answer, I could not read their papers
The cliché "run and hide" was here just good advice

I was young then, I did not know my rights
They knocked over my lampshade to my surprise
They shone a light in my eyes, so they could see the lies
I glanced towards the door, lampshade on the floor

They exited quickly, just as they had came
They wanted something, I gave them a name
The name was made up, so was the address
Fiction can take the blame, I started to get dressed
Track Name: Staring out of windows
You've been staring out of windows of buildings on the 16th floor
Looking for more
But there is not a phone call you can make, or a letter you can write to make things better overnight
Though you wish there was

And you say you're always tallest right before the fall
And you're standing on your ladder but you just looks small
Track Name: Seconds away from rain