“We have stories in our family that are straight out of “Grapes Of Wrath”.
Singer-songwriter ALIAS JAMES’ roots go back four generations to the heat and dust of Bakersfield, California, where his Great Grandfather was a pioneer cotton and grape farmer.
“He was known as a guitar-playing, song-loving, horseman who worked hard and was a generous soul. My Grandmother drove a plow in 120 degrees. Like most families, there’s some tragedy in our history.”
Bakersfield is widely known as an epicenter in alternative Country and Americana music, where artists like Merle Haggard and Buck Owens challenged Nashville’s clean cut image, and later others, like Dwight Yoakam got their start in that region.
“Free Country,” the debut release from singer-songwriter ALIAS JAMES, is a wide-ranging album of lyric-driven songs that touch on Americana, Alt-Country, Singer-Songwriter, old-school Country, and Alternative Rock. Featuring pedal steel, a variety of guitar textures, fiddle, and vocal harmonies, the sounds and grooves range from classic to contemporary, with no two songs sounding the same.
“The song “Free Country” came about because someone asked me what do you call this music. And I grew up hearing that expression all the time; it could mean different things, but mainly you can do or think what you want, for better or worse. And one thing led to another - the lonely rodeo guy, the girl who needs some freedom to decide what she wants to do, the person who gets pulled over because of the way they look. It’s an open-ended state of mind. And it begs a few questions.”
AJ plays all the guitars and sings lead and harmonies on the album, which features pedal steel on 8 of the 12 tracks, in both classic (“Hell (if I don’t cry”, “Where You Used To Be”) and more modern, ambient (“Temptation”, “Catch Myself”) settings. Also featured are two cameos by award-winning fiddle player Jenee Fleanor, which add to the collection’s acoustic dimension. AJ lives and records in an old barn “out in the country," using old instruments and amps, and running everything through old tube-driven mic preamps from Ampex tape recorders.
“I think the name Alias is pretty straightforward and self-explanatory. And what’s in a name? Something your parents called you, or maybe a nickname by someone who knows you in a certain way, or sometimes a name you give yourself. Actually, the way this world is playing out, I think having an alias or two could be just plain good sense."
The diverse sounds and stylings of these songs combine to give the album a unifying factor: an artist’s love of the many shades and variations in the broad palette of Americana music.