St. Christopher / Waterbug Records

Chicago-based James McCandless has been making records since 1985. One is his seventh collection of songs and tunes.

He began playing guitar at an early age, learning mainly Irish and blues material. According to McCandless, "As a child in Lewistown, Montana, I sat at the knee of
my Grandpa, enraptured by his Irish fiddle playing. We had no record player,
no TV or radio. We had Grandpa. I've been in pursuit of his greatness ever since."

Influenced, too, by the Western novels of Zane Grey and Jack Schaefer (Shane), and, of course, Hollywood's widescreen versions, his favourite songwriters include Shane MacGowan, Warren Zevon, Leadbelly and Dylan, while McCandless has himself been compared to John Prine

for the qualities in both his songwriting and performance. That's the background. He is a seriously fine talent.

The Irish music, the blues, the Western influences, and doubtless Grandpa, too ... they're all there in McCandless's recordings. From the amusing, yet perhaps all-too recognisable exploits described in 'One Too Many' to the immediately contrasting mood of 'Poor But Honest' ('Poor but honest that's how we was raised / in Mississippi in the bad old days'), One combines whimsy, wry observation and a celebration of life despite the odds. Darker still is 'The Boy', its tale delivered in chilling manner far more effective than gothic indulgence and mere common or garden-variety murder balladry, while a coupIe of tune medleys from the Irish tradition, 'Top of The White Rock' / 'Moran's Return' and 'Waxie's Dargle' / 'Sailor's Hornpipe' are played at a walking pace".

-David White