Sunday, June 27, 2010

From the Archives - Al James of Dolorean

Songs To Learn And Sing - Al James of Dolorean Interview


Al supported Damien Jurado on his On My Way To Absence tour in 2005. Prior to playing in Whelans I spoke to Al about Dolorean's Violence In The Snowy Fields album. The gig was spellbinding and included a fantastic version of Dolorean's Hannibal, MO, the standout track from the band's first album Not Exotic.

Al explained the different approach he took to the songwriting process between records one and two: "Not Exotic maintained a mood throughout and everything stayed pretty restrained, pulled back the songs were fairly narrative, and so with Violence In The Snowy Fields lyrically I wanted to speak a little bit more generally, not as specific with the narratives and I wanted the songs to be a little bit more upbeat and stand on their own. There's a little bit more of a country influence, maybe a Buffalo Springfield or Byrds kinda feel to some of the songs."

The inlay card of Violence In The Snowy Fields mentioned both Levon Helm and Dennis Wilson, Al explains why: "The Byrds, I like their stuff, I like what they do but not nearly as much as say, The Band, who I think make about as soulful a music, as is possible in the genre. The same with The Beach Boys, In my opinion it's mainly when Dennis, Carl or Brian is singing, sorry Mike. I'm probably not alone in that. Especially Dennis, it's weird to hear those Beach Boys records and then you hear a song like Forever that just sticks out like a blue-eyed soul song in the middle of a record. Dennis was one of those crash and burn characters but his solo work is some of my favourite that I've ever discovered. It really changed me and I don't think that we draw too much of it arrangement wise, but the spirit of it, the passion and genuineness of it is hopefully something which I aspire to. Pacific Ocean Blue holds up surprisingly well, song for song, the arrangements, the melodies, the rawness of his voice totally transcends time - it's beautiful. To me it's on par with Chris Bell's solo record." 

Dolorean - Violence In The Snowy Fields (Yep Roc, 2004)

Dolorean are based in Portland, Oregon and to date have released three albums, their fourth, The Unfazed is due this autumn on Partisan Records in the US and Fargo Records in Europe. A free mp3 of The Unfazed, the title track, is available from the band's website here.  

Dolorean - The Destruction
(from Violence in the Snowy Fields, Yep Roc Records 2004)

Dennis Wilson - Forever (Al's Choice)

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