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     What does a high rise metal worker, who has skills in mechanical engineering do after he fulfils his childhood dream of being coming a firefighter? Move on to his adult dream of becoming a country singer of course! Anthony Michael James just retired from his career as a fire fighter in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to devote all of his time to his music and support his new release of "Old Friends" with tours and performances. It was a big step to leave his livelihood behind but his songwriting and recording will get all of his attention now. After one listen to his new CD, I know he made the right choice! Here are a few choice songs that struck me:

      The bluegrass inspired "Sweet Sarah" kicks off the 10 songs on this release. The production qualities on this CD are very good. A mixture of guitar, mandolin, dobro, fiddle, bass and drums back up Anthony's strong clear voice. Anthony's vocal chops are delivered with impeccable taste and enthusiasm. Those who came before him in country music would be proud to hear him on this tune.

     "Steel Stampede" is a rocking tune about a pack of bikers who visit a one horse town. It is a modern day "Ghost Riders In The Sky" with all of the excitement made possible with today's instrumentation. One can imagine this as a live performance--it would be very powerful! Guitarist, Robby Springfield, burns up the tune with his 6 string country assault while fiddle player Tim Crouch matches with timely fills and turnarounds.

     The bouncy, "Whole Lot Of You", is a foot tapping tune. Everyone in the band takes a whack at this one from banjo to stinging 6-string with total success. Fun harmonies from the backing singers fill out the tune while Anthony's vocal ride on top of it all.

     "Old Friends" is a powerfully sung melancholy ballad with piano and strings. Anthony's vocals are comfortable and well blended with cello and violin. You begin to realize the depth of his vocal ability on this tune.

     "One More Goodbye" tells the story of lover's parting. Gorgeous instrumentation back this mellow song. The percussion, steel and electric guitars enhanced with the solid drumming and bass heighten the soulful country vocals of Anthony.

    "After School" is laden with country charm, perfectly placed fiddle, guitar and dobro encase Anthony's welcome story telling. I see this one on the radio!

     The slow melodic "Let Me" is a powerful closing tune for this CD. The whole band fits Anthony's voice like a glove. I find myself getting lost in this tune.

     The liner notes reach out to thank many people who touched this music in one way or another. Anthony shares the success with all. This album is also an auditory treat because of it's care in the recording quality and mix. "Old Friends" was recently named Single Of The Year by New Music Weekly Magazine. I would not be surprised to see the entire CD recognized for awards this year. You can visit Anthony's web site at anthonymichaeljames.com and see his upcoming tour schedule and more. His "Old Friend's" CD is available for sampling at his site as well--click here. Plan to add this one to your "need to own" list! ~ audiogrid.com

Anthony Michael James

"Old Friends"

Speaking of old friends, here is

Anthony with Charlie Daniels

Anthony gives us the perpetual smile

Cover of Anthony Michael James

new CD, "Old Friends"