On October 20, singer-songwriter Darrin James, leader of the gritty funk group, Disaster Relief, will headline The Blind Pig alongside Ann Arbor-based band Violet Sol. During this performance, James will perform his two new singles, “When You’re With Me” and “Born for One Love,” from his upcoming album, “See Right Through.”
James is an artist bred from social awareness. Whether that is his funny or heart-wrenching takes on modern society or frustrations with the political landscape, the Detroit-raised instrumentalist guides us through his colorful perspective, picking and choosing which style of music suits the topic.
From funk-rock for dissecting politics to light folk music when singing a detailed love story, throughout his career, dating back to 2006, James has always remained well-versed in crafting a song that captures all the thematic elements that help ease you to see the picture he’s painting.
For his new album, “See Right Through,” set to release this January, the rock-singer called the self-produced project an introspective look into his personal growth throughout the years.
“This album has more personal elements than my prior albums,” James said. “This album focuses on emotions and feelings. There are love songs or songs about people I have lost. This album is more of seeing through me and into my heart.”
For the album’s singles, James showcases these emotionally heavy themes, crafting two folk-rock songs that focus on the beauty of love. On “When You’re With Me,” the veteran singer, backed by a powerful guitar, with subtle piano notes over his gravelly voice, praises the love in his life, singing in an upbeat and thankful tone.
James says “When You’re With Me” is a song about he and his wife celebrating their 20th anniversary, and “Born for One Love” is about the love you receive from your family or your children.
“It’s heart on your sleeve, love songs,” James said. “It’s about devotion and feeling lucky about having that person in your life. You can always be yourself when you’re with me. You’re perfect as you are.”
While he did not dive into too many details about the album, James says the project is nearly entirely self-produced, playing most of his instrumentation throughout the album.
For his upcoming show at The Blind Pig, James, a former literature student at the University of Michigan, called his upcoming performance a return home, having routinely played at The Blind Pig throughout his career.
“When I was at U-M, it was my dream to play at The Blind Pig.” James says, “There aren’t many places left that you can turn up, rock out and do your thing. Whether it is punk rock, hip hop, or heavy metal, you can do it, and we like that about The Blind Pig.”
Playing alongside James and his four-piece band is Violet Sol, a versatile music collective mixing angelic vocals with dynamic melodies to make a unique sound that is harmonically soft but playfully fun.
“There’s a sense of intimacy because my songs are pretty serious,” James said. “We’re coming from a personal place and baring our souls. The music has blues and funk, and we want it to be fun. When people see our band, they say that it was real. It was different.”
For more information on the upcoming performance at The Blind Pig, visit their website or contact the Ann Arbor venue at 734-996-8555.
Antonio Cooper is a freelance journalist from Detroit, Michigan. His coverage of music festivals and interviews with local celebrities appeared in The E-Current Magazine, The Detroit Metro Times, XXL Magazine, RichMagDigital, The Ann Arbor Observer, and Pop Magazine.