NASHVILLE – Singer/songwriter and multi-format innovator Casey James is set to release Strip It Down,
a rich collection of blues and smoky soul that is a deeply personal
reflection of the former “American Idol” finalist and Texas-born roots
rocker, on June 9.

“All I want to do is play music,” James said.
“Stripping it back to just me making a record of music that I love was a huge stepping stone in my life.”

James will celebrate the release with a performance Friday, June 9
at City Winery in Nashville. During the event, City Winery will be
selling custom bottles of wine with a portion of the proceeds going to
the HART Fund, which is part of the Blues Foundation’s philanthropic

Last night, “Bulletproof,” a raucous bit of Texas roadhouse swagger featuring a raspy Delbert McClinton, premiered during the Blues Report, the new music show on Sirius XM Radio.

is familiar to many as a finalist on season 9 of “American Idol,” and
familiar to still more as a country artist who notched a Top 15 single
with “Crying On A Suitcase.” But in
Strip It Down, James comes into his own by following a simple plan: being himself.

It’s titled Strip It Down
because that is exactly what he did. James collected 14 songs he’d
written or co-written, holed up in a Nashville
studio with a trim, crackerjack band and hammered out the bulk of the
album in four days. He shed the layers of stylized bulk he’d been given
in those previous public ventures to find the real artist underneath, a
guy with a convincing, smoky vocal quality and a burning, lyrical skill
with a guitar.

the music he loves. Between his shrewd playing and exuberant singing,
the influence of Tab Benoit, Doyle Bramhall II, and Freddie King are
highly apparent in
Strip It Down,
which folds in
a variety of styles, all connected directly to that blues base. The
project opens with James coursing through the dramatic blues/rock of
“All I Need.” From there, James easily traverses the spacious old-school
R&B of “Different Kind Of Love,” the soulful “Supernatural,” the
breezy, country swing of “Stupid Crazy,” and the gutbucket closer “Fight
You For The Blues.”

delivers it all with a commanding presence, a rebuilt confidence that
comes from doing what he does naturally, and doing it well. “This record
was a healing thing for me,” James says, “because this is who I am.
It’s what I’ve always wanted to do.”

James found a gifted
collaborator in
Tom Hambridge,
a drummer, songwriter and producer whose work he’d long admired.
Hambridge had a hand in albums by Buddy Guy, Foghat, Keb’ Mo’ and Susan
Tedeschi, and his grounding in the blues and roots music was spot on for
where James wanted to go as an artist.

their first co-writing session, James and Hambridge penned the
bristling acknowledgement of sufficiency, “All I Need,” which eventually
became the opening track. Two weeks later, they reconvened and authored
“Killin’ Myself,” a snarling rocker that loosely encapsulates the
roughest emotions from James’ experience with the music business.
Writing lead to Hambridge developing a strong vision for the project. He
enlisted guitarists
Pat Buchanan and Rob McNelley to back James up on guitar, bass player Tommy McDonald, and keyboard player Kevin McKendree. They
Strip It All Down mostly live in the studio, James singing and playing with the band and nailing most of the songs in three takes or less.

funded it all through a one-month Kickstarter campaign, asking his fans
to invest in the next step on his musical journey. They came through in
a big way, delivering more than double his original goal. It served as a
reminder that even when his path had taken him down difficult roads,
he’d made a strong connection with an audience that
understood his creative ambitions.

Strip It Down sounds
distinctly different from the work he did in his previous recording
deal. And it’s much more forceful than the artist America first saw on
Although those stages were important steps in James defining himself –
recognizing the music that brought him joy and accepting
the talents that make him able to deliver it.

always thought of myself as a guitar player that can sing, but I
realize now that that’s not the case – I feel as confident and
comfortable with my vocals these days as I do with my playing,” he says.
“My perception of who I am has changed.”

Upcoming Tour Dates:

May XX – Phoenix, AZ – Musical Instrument Museum

June 1 – San Diego, CA – House of Blues

June 2 – Anaheim, CA – House of Blues

June 3 – Sacramento, CA – Goldfield Trading Post 

June 4 – Anaheim, CA – House of Blues

June 9 – Nashville, TN – City Winery; Official Album Release Party

June 16 – Eldon, MO – Shawnee Bluff Winery & Vineyards

June 17 – Bluffton, IN – Kehoe Park

June 29 – Batesville, IN – Bacon Blues and Brew Music and Arts Festival

Aug. 26 – Le Roy, NY – Jam at the Ridge

Sept. 9 – Castlewood, VA – Russell County Fair and Horse Show

For more information and a complete list of tour dates, visit


Photo Credit: Amy Richmond

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