Everyone who has found their way in this world vividly recalls the moment he or she discovered “it.” For George Castrinos, leader and founder of Saint James Band, “it” came early in childhood. He was only 10 years old when a forbidden peek inside the bedroom of his best friend’s older brother’s room revealed a red Gibson guitar that unearthed a musical passion that would drive him for the rest of his life. Castrinos went on to build a career and play with an impressive list of artists. But in 2011, Castrinos took control over his destiny and launched the Los Angeles based Saint James Band. The rock blues trio releases their 10 track LP titled Always Be With You on March 24th.
Always Be With You opens with its namesake track. An endearing, romantic song with happy harmonies, it also serves as a preview to the release as a whole with its lyrics about love along with the introduction of the blues based guitar riffs that will ultimately define this LP. Next is the upbeat folk/rock hybrid Sweet Lovely Darling which features Castrinos’ daughter successfully sharing lead vocals on what may be my favorite track of this LP. Love You All then continues the general overarching theme of love with its feel good message alongside strong guitar accompaniments that speak to the listeners’ ears more than lyrics ever could. Rounding out the first half of the release is Everything Is Going to Be Alright, an optimistic song about surviving loss and triumphing in trying times that was written after the death of Castrinos’ brother, David.
The second half of Always Be With You continues the positive vibe that Castrinos aimed to achieve when writing the lyrics and bringing the band into the studio. It gets off to a slightly slow start sound wise with Silent Partner although its message about someone having your back through life’s difficulties is appealing. Who You Are is about finding beauty in authenticity and takes an interesting dip in pace mid-song before unleashing the rock based guitar riffs that maintain the genuineness of Saint James Band’s sound. The somewhat revivalist themed Come to the River follows with a pleasing rhythmic blues guitar intro and a lyrically haunting call for a fresh start before moving into the ’70s sounding I’m Confused, which allows unmistakably rock influenced guitar picking and sliding to put Castrinos’ talent on full display. Musically, Better Way has a retro feel to it as the lyrics discuss redemption and appreciation for being guided towards a life that is manageable before the LP wraps up with a powerful and purely instrumental piece called In Memory of Elizabeth. Not one word was necessary as Saint James Band masterfully allows the pure music of the guitar to speak for them on this incredibly soulful dedication track.
Saint James Band has a heavily blues influenced, retro-rock sound with sliding guitar solos and addictive riffs littering every track of their upcoming full length LP Always Be With You. With blues rock prominent throughout, the exceptionalism of the album is found inside these plentiful, heartfelt guitar solos which are seemingly the hallmark of the Saint James Band. Founding member George Castrinos grabbed hold of a guitar as a child, has never let go and his unquestionable love of his craft shines through track after track allowing Always Be With You a degree of musical diversity that is worthy of your listening time.
Always Be With You is available March 24th.