For the better part of the last two or three years, Kristopher James has inarguably been one of the most soulful singer-songwriters in Tampa Bay, and now all that emotion finally has a home.
On September 13, the 36-year-old with a penchant for writing soaring melodies will release a debut, crowdfunded full-length, Kindness Never Quits. Today he’s sharing a new video for “Too Soon, Too Late.” Cut from film taken on the first day James started to record the album at Pioneer Sound in Casselberry, Florida, the four-minute clip is a new take on the lyric video that shows producers Adam Sliger and David Whitmore helping James through the process of creating an album that came with its own set of huge ups and downs.
“From start to finish the record was a roller-coaster of emotions,” James explained, adding that many of the collaborations lifted him during the process.
Portland singer Moorea Masa appears on the record along with strings from Nashville’s Jack-Of-All Strings Co., and another Portlander (Swatkins, who plays in Allen Stone’s band) added some unreal talkbox to the effort, too. Tampa Bay’s Ronnie Dee also helped out by tapping James Suggs, David Hope and Dan Shafer to help out on a horn arrangement.
The recording process was about perfect, too, when James was forced to undergo an unplanned surgery for an anterior spinal fusion. The procedure — where doctors use a “welding” process to correct problems with pain-causing vertebrae — had the potential to paralyze his vocal.
“Back in February of this year, about a month after my surgery, I could sing, not like I used to, but I could,” James said. So he went back in and did the damn thing, and asked for help through a Kickstarter campaign.
“I believed in what Adam, David, myself and everyone else who was a part of it, were creating, but I wasn't sure if people would be interested in partnering up and believing with us.,” James said. He exposed himself by asking for an assist, and in the end his followers ended up funding the project at 122%.
Those who’ve interacted with James know that he is a heart-on-the-sleeve kind of person, and while his vocal is powerful on Kindness, the record is also a more nuanced look at his motivation for baring it all in his songs and real life.
“The album came about because I wanted to create something I was proud of, something my kids could listen back and say, ‘That's my dad,’” he said. The album opens with the intimate, stripped down title song for a reason.
“It's the idea that, as we walk this life, most everything will wither and fall, in some manner — money, fame, ego,” James added. “But ‘Kindness’ as a practice, as a belief and a worldview that we project towards every-person, won't quit on us.”
Watch the video below, and see James warm up for the run-up to his own album release show when he plays support on the EP release show for another fantastic Tampa bay band, Oxford Noland. James is pressing vinyl copies of Kindness Never Quits wrapped in work by Orlando's Bison Printing, call your local record store to see if it's carrying the release.
Oxford Noland EP release w/Kristopher James Band/Timothy Eerie. Fri. Aug. 23, 8 p.m. $10. Paper Crane, St. Petersburg. INFO.
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