By Frank Bell
James Billett has crafted intimate and exquisitely raw folk on his debut EP, What Will They Say About Us.
James Billett may be a name you’ve caught wind of before. Already begun his career in a false start many would be proud of – writing sessions with John Legend and encouragement from Elton John – Billett then decided that the mainstream record label life was not for him and turned his back on music for ten years.
This EP is his comeback.
A comeback on his own terms, with song writing topics at heart which he actually believes in and values, the What Will They Say About Us’ EP sees this seasoned songwriter tackle themes of police brutality (written long before the protests surrounding George Floyd’s murder), LGBTQ rights, a post-#MeToo world and overcoming inner demons. The lyrics are consistently poetic, analytical and incredibly heartfelt – something which must surely come from finally being able to write what one actually cares about.
The record overall is determined, poignant and sprinkled over with a dusting of wonder and the ability to look towards the light, even in the darkest moments. ‘Faith Over Family’ is perhaps the best example of this. Detailing the fallout between a father and his son when his son comes out as gay, Faith Over Family nevertheless makes sure to take time out to bask in the glory of realising who you are as a person, and the beauty and purity of love in all its many forms.
Topics are thought through and explored with sensitivity and quiet frustration, leaving Billett in the position of trusted ally and spokesperson for those who are often marginalised or left voiceless. In conjunction with this, Billett has teamed up with Black Minds Matter UK, an essential mental health charity whose work will benefit families all over the country. A celebration for all students starting university this year – Virtual Freshers Fest – will take place online, helmed by Billett and with a whole host of exciting artists performing live studio sessions for Freshers in 2020.
A true ally and spokesperson, and unfalteringly political in both lyrics and actions, this is a truly remarkable debut from a man whom we hope has many more releases to come.