Quarter​-​life Crisis

by Jack James

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Written by a friend:
"Do you mind doing a blurb thing for the album?"
"Ah, so you finished more downbeat shite?"

It’s somewhat of a running joke among peers: Jack James makes downbeat personal music, strictly non-party atmosphere stuff. I'd disagree. Songs out there now are too light, no one likes to attach emotion to song and if they do you're damn right that emotion will be cliché. “Quarter-life Crisis” isn't in that category but if you've heard the man before it’s hardly a shock to the system really.

What is noticeably different is the approach, deploying a full band sound on several tracks, working with banjo, piano and broom sweeps where it fits the story. This variety is a significant step from his debut release "Lights off, headphones on" and provides a percussive counterpoint to the multifaceted songwriting on show.

You're listening to music because you want to find something that speaks to you. What this provides is a conversation on the people, places and situations of a life that you don't know; by the end you want to know more regarding near everyone involved. Real people being discussed by a real person, you can see why some might call it downbeat, but mostly it’s just really quite interesting.


released May 24, 2010

Written: Jan 2009 - April 2010
(Home) Recorded: December 2009 - May 2010
Location: Glasgow, Scotland, UK

All songs written and recorded by Jack James

Instrumentation: Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Banjo, Piano, Drums, Shaker, Sweeping Brush, Flick Book, Whistling, Electric Guitar, Bass Guitar, Accidently Kicking a Belt with a Noisy Buckle

Official Site: jackjames.org
Contact: jackjamesmusic@live.co.uk




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: Gathering Dust
Arriving late into the evening, you travelled 27 hours
And you'll be leaving in the morning 'cause time is tight
It's time to leave your newfound friends, say goodbye don't cause offense
It's OK you weren't close to them, you kept them at a distance

I know you would be sleeping if you had your way
Just humour them until you can find escape

Now you have a fresh, clean slate
A white box to keep the things you own
And if you had the time to decorate
You can't, you won't, it cannot be changed

Because it's gathered dust
And the pictures you hung on the walls don't evoke the same feelings as they did before
What's came over you? Do you need someone to talk to?

It's getting hard to separate friends from good friends as we age
You disconnect with distance in between, now you're not sure what they mean

Because you've gathered dust
And the talks that you have on the phone don't evoke the same feelings as they did before
What's came over you? I thought you wanted somebody to talk to?
Track Name: Another man, another song
Before we boarded the train
There was an announcement on the P.A.
There will be a delay, due to a fatality
I didn't know then that he was your brother
It was after all 7 years before I met you
And 6 months since we found out we had this link, this dreadful bond

You must have a better life
And do you still obsess?
And do you still get upset when I call you out on something you did wrong?
Because if there's another man, maybe there's another song

I was early that day, I had nothing to make, no one to meet
I was just going to watch the people walking up Buchanan Street
And sit on the steps the way we did before

Of course it wasn't the same, I had no one to talk to
Just strangers to nod at who would sometimes smile back at me
And I wondered if they felt pity towards me

You must have a better life
And do you still obsess?
And do you still get upset when I call you out on something you did wrong?
Because if there's another man, maybe there's another song
Track Name: How Long?
How long did I leave you here?
In the forest by the trees, that doesn't sound like me

I'm retracing my steps, I'm following the wire
Back to the shelter that we made, and the fire

I thought I would remember the way, but I'm damaged
You knew this when I followed you in, why did you lead the way?

How long can you survive this?
It's like a blow to the knees and you're just talking to me

But I can get back up, I can act unaffected
With blood dripping down my legs, is this act still believed?

I deserve a medal for the effort I put in
I'm not saying you didn't try, but I do think you were naïve

Something tells me you won't be back here again
You camped here one night and that was enough for you and your friends
But as you go to leave, your head turns back to where you stayed
Something's weighing heavily upon you, but at that time you were confused

How long did I leave you here?
How long?
Track Name: Twenty-two
Twenty-two and already looking back
And so are you and you're not as old as that
The five years have passed but that's where you want to stay
You can't move on but the people do anyway

Try explaining that to the friend you had
The one you thought you'd follow all the way
The one you told about your plans to move out there
He's broken down, he can't get up from his chair

Already you've got your memories skewed and distorted now
Visions of rooms, corridors and stairwells
They tore that building down
They couldn't keep it for your nostalgia sake

You walked alone there one night three years ago
Taking pictures of the surrounding woods
Last night you had a dream you played there one last time
It was just a dream, you'll never play again
Track Name: The Confidence Man
What you see in me is a man who is built to perform
What's easily seen is this is an act that is worn
It's dark and it seems that this night has peaked too soon
The joke was made, the suspense is out of the room

And it takes him so long to breathe that we think that he's dead
I watch the breath go in as I hold up his head

I'm in the situation, I'm the one to blame
I started this down the track, when I used your name

Come with me now, I've found us a place to live
There's a driveway on the side where a car can safely sit
But there's a man in the doorway, standing with a grin
Pulling papers out his briefcase, like some relentless magic trick
Track Name: Progress
Where it goes from here you can change with a plan
At least you think you can
Put that old picture beside yours and analyse what's changed
Your stupid hair, your ugly face, your outlandish views were all over the place

I still think that you can move on
To something else, someone else
But all you want to do is put on a show
And there's no one looking over your shoulder yet

Something tells me you want to meet him
So we schedule in a time
Should it be your place or maybe mine?
You know that old friend of yours drives a hard line

And all I think as we're talking is how you've changed but somehow stayed the same
You've still got a long way to go, you won't get very far with that show

There's always something wrong, if you fix this thing the next will come along
It's our nature, something you can't change
But you've got so many choices, who do you want to be?

Making progress is something you can't teach
Track Name: The Teacher
I am the secret to the start
I know why you fell apart, it's because you went too far
You should've stopped when you had the chance
You could've agreed but you made that stance, and now you're in the pro-camp
Because you raised your hand in some argument you don't understand

Are you having problems? I've been there you know
Here comes an over-simplified answer, the unasked for advice
Teaching lessons at night, while he's holding a pint

Looks like things are brightening up, it's a light grey
Waking up is tough when you've nowhere to go
So you make an excuse to see a friend, then some enemy to make amends
But it all went wrong when you got where he came from and how he got there

Are you having problems? I've been there you know
Here comes an over-simplified answer, the unasked for advice
Teaching lessons at night, while he's holding a pint
Track Name: Childhood Games
Will you go outside? Your friends are at the door
With some new game to play
And it's overcast today, but you never notice

We've got the house to ourselves
Yeah, I also have some things to take care of
Bills to pay, something scheduled for yesterday
I can't remember what it was

Things get misspoken and you talk out of turn
And what we've learned feels worthless

Go and build your statue as high as your expectations
I'll live up above them
Wondering in amazement, looking down below

Looking at the people with their terrible lives
Because you don't think they're right, you're better than them

Stay in your semi-detached house, in the neighbourhood by the good school
Close enough to walk to, memories of your childhood
In the safety of numbers, in the place you often go
Track Name: Past Sayings
Sitting with your feet up, just to get the pain off
Please don't let this bad luck set you back
Your neighbour has lost your respect, you think you're keeping your nose in check
But he despises you as much as you do him

He's over-analysing things, you know that's true when the phone rings
He answers in 4 instead of 3
And that's just on long distance calls, he keeps in touch in spite of it all
That's despite the disgust in his voice he tries to mask

I see you trying to hide, to blend into the crowd
I don't necessarily agree with that, even if I said it in the past

Your choices have been going down, you were a bridge-burner then just as you are now
The only difference is admission
You carry now favour now, your sympathy has been spent
But trust can be rebuilt

Please, step back from the crowd
I didn't even mean that you brought shame on me
Even if I said it in the past
I take it all back