“The statements that last longest are most simply put ……….” JAMES BLUNDELL ARRIVES AT RING AROUND THE MOON
It’s the perspective he was able to call upon that gives Ring Around The Moon – which he describes as “The most mature and satisfying record I’ve ever made” – its conviction, its command and its sheen.
Two decades, nine albums, country fame, pop hits, a national top five album and ones that came nowhere near, nine Golden Guitars, an ARIA Award, songs written and recorded in Nashville, New York, Los Angeles, London and Dublin, collaborations with good earth riders and metal muthas, years as a bona-fide Queensland cattleman, the embrace of Vietnam vets, a highly visible Qantas ad, gold and platinum plaques, national recognition, exultation and disillusionment, glowing reviews and occasional indifference, a tour with Kris Kristofferson and a chin wag with Johnny Cash, uncountable shows on the road that goes on forever, wrong turns and right …… all with his curiosity, intuition, good humour and dogged determination intact.
As the Grateful Dead once sang: “What a long strange trip it’s been.”
“Half your career is devoted to getting on your own road” James contends, twenty years after he won the Starmaker competition, fresh-faced and eager to conquer country. “I’m a very different person from that young bloke – I’ve learned a helluva lot along the way, most of it from making mistakes and going through tough times. Now I’ve reached a personal place of comfort where I’m relaxed about pretty much everything. I know I’m no ‘man of the moment’, I’m not a current artist. If I had to describe the sort of music I’m making now I think it would be songs of experience leading to clarity. Musically I’m a very definite product of an evolving Australian psyche.”
There is a summation he offered in 2005, about some of his earlier work, that applies just as accurately to Ring Around The Moon. “I guess what ties the songs together is that they are all thought-provoking in one way or another. And if I can make people think a bit harder and look a little deeper into themselves I’ve succeeded as a songwriter.”
“I have half the next album ready to go. I’m committed to being an artist again and I want to stay here for a long time.”
Indeed, there is something he said way back in 1995 about his ambitious double Earth and Sea CD set, that seems to apply here, “If your instincts are all driving you in one direction, I think it’s a disaster if you fight it. I’ve always been a musical junkie; I’m comfortable in a lot of grooves. In Australia you can do what you want and that sort of creative freedom is such an adventure. One of the freedoms of making an album is that, if you use your brains, you can put out whatever you want.”
And what James Blundell wants and what he puts into his music is never going to be ill-considered. He has high expectations of the craft of music-making. “I think it’s the last apolitical, non-denominational platform of speech left to free thinkers and, as such, should be treated with absolute respect. It crosses barriers that other communications can’t. The meaning will make itself clear to anyone who understands the language in which a song is written.”