River James hail from Chesapeake, VA, and it’s appropriate that these indie folkers named themselves after the James River. Their music feels open and green, natural, and extremely intimate. Even their “urban” song, Avenue A, is filled with a longing for peace and beauty. And while I understand why they chose Ave. A as the single, and as much I love the tune, I have to say that the masterpiece here is “Heart of Love.” With it’s plaintive cry, “Hold on to me!” and lyrics daring the listener to make herself naked and “choose love while we still have the chance,” this could easily have been cheeseball fluff, but it works. Every time I hear it, my heart moves a little. The best songs are those that communicate passion, and every song on River James does so . . . But this one does it best.
The two main men behind the album are singer/songwriter Vince Scheuerman (Army Of Me) and drummer Jacob Marshall (MAE), both of whom have previously had major-label contracts, but who appear to have eschewed them (or vice-versa) for a more organic, D.I.Y. operation. Coupled with bass player John “Scoops” Hutchins and guitarist Tyler Strickland, it seems that, at least musically, they’ve made a great choice.