Cee Cee James – Stripped Down & Surrendered
This new CD by James comes four years from her last release. She claim’s it’s taken that long for her soul to mine the diamonds. She and husband Rob “Slideboy” Andrews wrote all of the songs for this together. Her second release takes a dark and interesting path through the world of her emotions. Joining the couple on the album are Dave Malony on drums, Jeffrey Morgan on keys for two tracks, Kevin Sutton Andrews on lead guitar for two tracks, and Terry Nelson on keys for another 3 tracks.
The title tracks starts the album out. It’s a cool cut, a tune where James bemoans her emotions being stripped sown and that she has emotionally surrendered. Cee Cee calls this song the anthem for the second half of her life. Having surrendered to her life after coming to terms with those inner demons, she now can move on and find trust. A minimalistic tune with acoustic guitar and a bit of percussion, it’s got some nice accents on guitar by Andrews to accompany James’ vocals. Electric slide guitar introduces “The Edge Is Where I Stopped” and Andrews adds some acoustic guitar to the mix. James sings about going to the brink in her life but not passing the edge. Another song about her life in this biographical album. The pace of things pick up a bit with “Hidden and Buried,” a cut about all the things in our lives that we’ve conveniently tucked away and ignored that we should dig up and face. We get some organ work in this cut along with backing vocals and percussion emulating a steam engine driving the device digging out the things we need to face. The song builds into a whirling dervish of musical angst. “He Shut The Demon Down” is a song of faith and how with Jesus help her demons were defeated. James gives a gritty performance; the guitar and she spar nicely. The song moves along as she vocally testifies and the guitar in turn does its’ own testifying.
Next is “Glory Bound,” a song that is Gospel-y tinged as James chants about being glory bound. “Love Had Done Left Home” is a nice little blues ballad with Cee Cee and the guitar in a sultry mode. More slow blues with “Cold, Hard Gun,” a dark and emotional piece about her man taking his life and giving up the one thing that could have saved him. To note, James has worked with veteran’s organizations to help prevent suicides. As many as 8,000 veterans are thought to commit suicide each year. “Thank You For Never Loving Me” is a song about a father who left his child and the song is a dark thank you because it helped give her the blues.
A bit of a Willie Dixon sort of groove gets going for “Before 30 Suns.” It’s a tune about a man who she thinks will recognize within a month that what’s she’s got is better than anyone else. “You’re My Man” is a more up tempo and bouncy cut with James singing about her knight in shining armor. “Miner Man’s Gold” is a mid tempo cut that builds nicely and has a cool groove and a nice guitar solo. The album concludes with “So Grateful,” a slide acoustic and vocal song where James expresses her thanks for what she’s had in her life that she’s loved and learned from.
After a few listens I figured out the one thing that I could not at first quite put my finger on. The songs are a compendium of James’ life experiences, and as I said things generally are thematically down. That in and of itself is not bad, but it is the length of the songs that generally extends those feelings. Perhaps if they were a bit shorter the album would be even better. But this is a small complaint. James has delivered some powerful songs after a four year layoff. She really wears her emotions on her sleeve and has produced a fine album for us.