“I was born in Manchester to an Anglo/Irish family. Music was always there at every family gathering. One of my earliest memories is of singing Beatles songs with my Mum…” James Foley grew-up with the Americana way of life, singing songs that were busy being born in the transatlantic port of Liverpool before travelling up the canal to Manchester’s immigrant communities. This authentic music soaked into his soul and comes out full of flavour in the exciting songs of maturity the acclaimed songwriter is currently singing.
With a new single and EP imminent, Foley is ready to step out of the lockdown shadows: “I’ve been recording using a mixture of live and remote techniques,” he reveals. “The process has opened my eyes to the ease, if you have the right musicians, of getting sessions done remotely. The lockdown has done me a favour in that sense – I’ve learned the value of doing things differently.” The bandleader has always done things differently. Way back when he was supporting such legendary artists as The Waterboys and Squeeze, as a member of UK folk rock stalwarts Leatherat, Foley was already writing the songs that would make people sit up and take notice. 2012’s ‘It’s A Nice Day Over There’ introduced folks to an intimate singer/songwriter mining the Americana tradition, but it’s on new songs such as the wild mercury sounding ‘Lost’ and the country soul of ‘Still As Stone’ that the artists has arrived at a sound all of his own. “I’ve been writing a lot during lockdown,” he says. “As well as gathering demos to sort through and put into piles for various recording projects.”
The urgency of ‘Lost’ reveals Foley is raring to go into 2021 and beyond: “I love the connection I can get to the audience in an intimate solo gig, and nothing beats making a racket with great musicians, so I can’t wait to get back both ways of playing gigs. These new songs reflect all that.” It’s going to be an exciting new year for Foley and his fans when new music is released and gigs can start up again. “I miss the excitement,” laments Foley. “From a young age I’ve always felt that sense of magic you only get at gigs. You’re seeing something which is only ever going to happen that exact way at that time… that’s why people still love live music. When you get an audience on your side, especially if you are new to them and you feel them connecting to your music, it’s a special feeling.”