On his debut album Diamonds & Hearts, James Deane demonstrates his remarkable abilities as an arranger. The music is simply beautiful, and his masterful way of delivering it adds heaps of warmth and intensity. It seems clear that he is an accomplished live performer, as his vocals and guitar work are crisp and confident in a way that is reminiscent of some of John Gorka’s work. The quality of the arrangement on Diamonds & Hearts cannot be overstated.
Mr. Deane dips his toe in a range of stylistic pools on the album, and so fans of blues, country, rock, and even acoustic soul will find something to enjoy. At first listen the use of metaphor in some of the lyrics felt slightly too deliberate for my personal tastes, but I found that as the warmth and energy of the of the evaporated my cynicism, by distaste for these lyrics evaporated as well.
‘Whole Heart Blue’ and ‘Strange Emotion’ are particularly indicative or a style that may serve Mr. Deane well on future albums. The only percussive instrument on both tracks in the piano, and this style allows Mr. Deane’s qualities shine through. Further, upbeat, full band tracks like the album’s namesake ‘Diamonds & Hearts’ and ‘Nobody Knows You (Like I Do)’ remind us that it would be wise to sample this material in a live setting.
All in all, Diamonds & Hearts is a palette-cleansing album that will leave the listener feeling vital and well.
Words: Paul Kellner