Colton James - America

RedSunset Entertainment


For his latest release, a seven-track EP, Colton James embraces familiar country tropes of trucks, boots, family, farm, the military and God, but brings his own homespun perspective to these mainly co-written tunes. Deep-fried country, served with an authenticity that comes from a real love of the music. The kind of thick, guitar-heavy country that is a rare commodity these days, especially when done in a way that feels natural and authentic. With the country tradition, a hard work ethic and an unshakeable belief in God, have become the markers that confer the mantle of authenticity of the artist and the music. Sometimes the authenticity of the music is circumscribed by region as well. With this set Colton illustrates the extent to which autobiographical and fictional self-invention have often devolved into a litmus test of authenticity and at the same time a narrow view of country music. He appears particularly enamored with replicating the populist appeal mined by Woody Guthrie and other traveling troubadours whose music generally spoke directly to those that worked the land and did what they could simply to survive. Then again, he is more likely to have been swayed by Trump, especially in his rallying call to Take This Country Back, echoing many disillusioned British people, who misguidedly voted for the greener pastures of olde England, promised by Brexit.

This is a startling, impactful collection of tracks that acts as a clear-cut mission statement from a man who knows who he is and what he wants out of life for himself and his family. He lays it on the line with the opening I Miss America, a strident slice of nostalgia for a return to the life and values of how he perceives it used to be some 20 years ago. It’s very much a rose-coloured view, because us of more mature years, know full well, that it sure was far from perfect back then. He becomes even angrier with Take This Country Back. He starts off quietly enough, honing in on a homeless man, likening him to maybe being Jesus but as the song develops into a rock anthem, with blaring guitars, it becomes more chest-thumping. For all Colton James’ righteous indignation, the interpersonal songs cut deepest. Richest Man Alive, a song with straight forward evocative lyrics about family, commitment and faith, that, paired with his resonating vocals, make it an anthem for anyone who is in a solid relationship, living the kind of life that ‘money can’t buy.’ 

With the countrified Ring On Her Finger, he excels at a waltzy country sound that makes you want to take to a dancefloor and sway, beer in hand. A deeply romantic ballad of enduring love with wistful steel guitar adding to his impassioned vocal to create a standout track. Though he didn’t write 47 Acre Farm, his compelling vocal makes it all sound so autobiographical, as he turns time back to growing up in an idyllic lifestyle. He keeps to a similar theme with the closing American Farmer. Painting a picture of rural Americana, he intersperses grit and gloom with plenty to lament, but also grounds for hope as he sees alluring glimpses of deliverance. A record full of passionate themes that will resonate with some, but will alienate just as many others, as Colton James’ hopes of healing the political divides to ‘make America great again!’ is doomed to fail.

November 2022