Stopping distance

by Jack James

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Jack James has a life threatening allergy to milk, to such an extent that he is forced to carry an Epinephrine autoinjector at all times. If he consumes any food that has been mixed with the alpha S1-casein protein, he will begin to die of anaphylactic shock. This happens more often than one may imagine and it's an interesting event, watching someone calmly avoid death by way of a small injection.

Okay, none of that is true at all, but it demonstrates a valid point; what do you actually know about the musicians you listen to? What do you want to know? It's not a one way conversation, so if you can connect to some lyric about acceptance, or even appreciate the historical autopsy drawing on the cover of "Stopping distance", then you have the chance to get to know Jack James a bit better.

As with the previous five albums this is a self-release that punches above its particular weight class when the songs are peeled back and analysed. Take "Florence" for example, probably the centrepiece of the album, which builds from a diminutive teasing melody before kicking into a rousing overture, all the while discussing a psychosomatic disorder also known as Stendhal syndrome. Another song like "Writer" is classic Jack James, an intimate wandering acoustic song about creative types trying to relate to the real world.

Here are some other relevant, factual things you may want to know before you decide to add this album to your collection. The recording studio used was the living room of a high-ceiled tenement flat in Glasgow's East End. All vocal and guitar takes were performed in a single live take, before adding various bells and whistles like banjos, pianos and drums. Going by the songs, Jack also has teeth, a tongue, appreciates art, is tired, and is fed up of arguing.

The most important thing you should take away from this release is that Jack James is a songwriter that isn't going away. There is probably more to learn, but you'll have to wait for another album to find out.


released February 3, 2014

Written: 2012 - 3rd June 2013
Recorded: 7th May 2013 – 19th September 2013
Location: Glasgow, Scotland, UK

All songs written and recorded by Jack James

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


Press quotes

"This is 'Bonnie Prince Billy' good, and I cannae praise much higher than that" - scotswhayhae,com

"It’s almost as if he’s been writing songs backwards – starting with all the produced stuff and then sanding away until he got the core of the music" - dauphinmag,com

"The end result is a thoroughly dull and uninspiring album that exudes not so much despair – which I assume was the aim – as self indulgence" - bluesbunny,com




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: The trouble with the light
Snow thrown in your face by shovelled hands at gale force pace
You lost your step up ahead and fell down with a gasp of breath
So tell me why I should care, I just found her there

Woke up with the light turned on, you walk towards it and you yawn
Unquestioning you turn it off, memories of last year lost
But I am not to blame, I just found it that way

Two paths for the light to go, take a look and watch it show
Well, looks like it changed its mind, recalibrate again one time

Oh, no
Oh, it shows

Oh, no
Oh, it shows
Track Name: Small pyramids
Mattress on the floor, that is all I need
Four walls and a door with a lock and key
Close the door behind me

I can drive all day, living on the A roads
No overnight stay, I can wear the same clothes
This is you now, this is what you chose

And I'm thinking of what more do I need

Year's supply of food, you can't grow on the move
Water from the tap, the pipe runs all the way through
This pyramid is small, it'll have to do

And I'm thinking of what more do I need
Track Name: Settle
Break the chain of command, find out where I stand
Grip shoulder lead by the hand
Find out you own your car and your home
Parents old, both live alone

Figuring the choice you made, aren't you glad I stayed?
Rather nicely played
Turn down the fire, it's got to last a while yet
Never mind, but that's your style set

Another chapter left to write, but you begin to find
The relative chapter length declines
Begin to repeat, firmly plant your feet
Got this far, can't admit defeat

A search for what you like, but people change their mind
Need something else that gratifies every time
Once heard a song that made you quit your job
Track suddenly stops
Track Name: Stopping distance
You came to a stop
Like a truck spilling over in rush hour
With one last thought

We're in seperate rooms
But we both think the same thoughts
And we both wanted to call

Hear the penny drop
And make a dull sound on the pavement
And you can smell that it's just been raining

So you started to walk
But broke into a run after one block
This is the clearest that you've ever thought
But when you came to the door you stopped
Track Name: Florence
Here comes an art attack
There's no Buchanan, just relax
Just too much Paris for you to hack
Florence has not got your back

Open eyes, wake up from black
See the movement, pan and track
Hear the colours, tight and packed
Florence has not got your back

Flutter heartbeat, are you sure?
Just when you thought you were cured
Surrounding closeness in a space
Jerusalem is just a place

Trick of chord change, twist of note
Delusions that you learned by rote
You're taking notes but it's a trap
Florence cannot love you back
Track Name: Tired
Tilt your head back, till you can see the smile
It's almost over, it's only been a while
It's been a hell of a week, I'm so tired I can't speak
And when I sit down I begin to laugh
I sit down and I laugh

So sit down and grin, I'll let you have your way
You can do your own thing, but you've got to do it all day
And it's more work than you thought, turned a hobby into a job
It's a pity you do not have time to think
Real shame, no time to think

But what is a man to do?
With some old rusted parts, he can build nothing new
What can I do?
I'm finding it hard to pull this one through

I know your game, sit down tell me your name
I can read your face like a book, you knew what to take so you took
The tools in the box aren't plentiful like before
Take a tool in your hand and try to sharpen it more

But what is a man to do?
With some old rusted parts, he can build nothing new
What can I do?
I'm finding it hard to pull this one through
Track Name: You're you?
How should I know?
Discarded tie, broken dress
What a fine mess
You're free to go

Squinted face towards the sun
It's not a spotlight
Look at the sky, it's so blue it's white
What have you done?

Salt sweat flash in the eyes
Over shoulders arms flung
You talk so old but you look so young
Set an alarm for the sunrise

Aren't you glad that our friends came to?
All fed and watered
Now that's the third time you've asked me that
Do you feel like yourself?
Do you feel like you're you?
Are you you?
Are you you?
Are you you?
Are you you?
Are you you?
Are you you?
Are you you?
Track Name: There's no winning
So I call you, to meet up and to talk this through
Try to reason with you but I'm through, there's no reasoning with you

I reach the point where I'll say anything
I try to speak but I cannot begin
There's no winning, no winning

So we race to the bottom, to the nearest point that we can score
Previous losses forgotten, we'll hammer home till you get sore

We'll jump like wolves if you'll just hesitate
The loudest voice can make no mistakes
There's no winning, no winning

You can dress up and conceal and imitate the salesman act
But the truths that you reveal are broken, we can see the cracks

You don't concede, just change point of attack
"Well that may be", then introduce a new fact
There's no winning, no winning
Track Name: Teeth and Tongue
Oh, this is a surprise
Yes, I've been working hard all this time
With teeth and tongue

Oh, this feels frictionless
Your expression does not fit your lips
With teeth and tongue

She opened with a question
She's been breaking ice all her life
With teeth and tongue
Track Name: Writer
People, events or ideas?
But your mind is small, like Roosevelt feared
Loud statements are thrown towards you
But you can't make them out for the opposing view
So you turn off the picture, hoping to turn down the noise
But the radio's distorted, you can't hear the voice

And you want to raise yours, but that's not what you learned
So you open your mouth to speak measured, but firm
But the words don't come out when you're in front of the crowd
So you go home alone to write them all down

You're a writer aren't you?
You think things through
Revise your mistakes, it's what you do

You're not more correct because you worked longer on it
Thoughts don't have depth due to how they're worded
So go home and study, research all night
You know I enjoy reading what you write

You're a writer aren't you?
You think things through
Track Name: After America
All words by Allen Ginsberg
America (edit)

America I've given you all and now I'm nothing.
America two dollars and twenty-seven cents January 17, 1956
I can't stand my own mind

America when will we end the human war?
Go fuck yourself with your atom bomb
I don't feel good don't bother me
I won't write my poem till I'm in my right mind

America when will you be angelic?
When will you take off your clothes?
When will you look at yourself through the grave?
When will you be worthy of your million Trotskyites?
America why are your libraries full of tears?

I'm sick of your insane demands
When can I go into the supermarket and buy what I need with my good looks?
America after all it is you and I who are perfect not the next world
Your machinery is too much for me
You made me want to be a saint

There must be some other way to settle this argument
Burroughs is in Tangiers I don't think he'll come back it's sinister
Are you being sinister or is this some form of practical joke?
I'm trying to come to the point
I refuse to give up my obsession
America stop pushing I know what I'm doing
America the plum blossoms are falling

I haven't read the newspapers for months, everyday somebody goes on trial for
America I feel sentimental about the Wobblies
America I used to be a communist when I was a kid and I'm not sorry
I smoke marijuana every chance I get
I sit in my house for days on end and stare at the roses in the closet
When I go to Chinatown I get drunk and never get laid
My mind is made up there's going to be trouble
You should have seen me reading Marx
I have mystical visions and cosmic vibrations

I'm addressing you
America this is quite serious
America this is the impression I get from looking in the television set
America is this correct?
I'd better get right down to the job

It occurs to me that I am America
I am talking to myself again