James Darren is an actor and musician from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He has had an expansive career, and is noted for roles in projects such as Gidget, The Gene Krupa Story, All the Young Men, The Guns of Navarone, Diamond Head and The Time Tunnel.
I know Darren from his recurring role on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, as the sentient hologram, Vic Fontaine. I actually reviewed his 1999 album, ‘This One’s from the Heart’ which is composed of a variety of songs including ones which he performed while on the show. From the first moment I heard him sing on DS9, I was hooked on his voice and actually returned to that album several times over the years since I first heard and recently after writing the review I decided that I would check out more of his music and that leads us to today, where I will be reviewing his album ‘Because of You’ which was released on July 10th 2001 via Capitol Records.
‘Just One of Those Things’ opens with a flurry of energy, horns and strings in perfect harmony, it creates these beautiful swelling melodies, and Darren enters his voice rich and energetic, and he matches the tune perfectly. He really hit the higher notes in this performance, and man what a strong entry right off the bat.
‘My Kind of Girl’ is a song I’ve always loved, a Sinatra tune, but not one that pops up as often, and yet it’s still fun, and Darren really makes it his own. I’m sure I said it in the previous review, but Darren has a really nice voice, but he also knows exactly how to hit these old standards. I don’t often wish to be any time but right now, but man these songs transport you to a whole other time and place.
‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’ is one of my favourite songs, a romantic little number, that it hard to do badly, but even harder to do well, and yet with his deep and melodic voice, and his years of experience Darren manages to capture the heart of this song and make it his own. He sings it a little slower than it’s usually sung if I’m not mistaken, but that’s because he lingers on the words, and you feel the impact of them. I really liked the harmony with the other vocalist, it really enriched the performance as a whole.
‘A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square’ is another favourite among the classics, although it always reminds me of Peep Show, A British Sitcom, where the song was featured in one of the episodes. I love the big band swing of this track, it’s lively and energetic, I’m usually partial to softer and slower, more melancholic songs, and I’ve certainly heard this song rendered as such, but this performance is a delight, and I really enjoyed it.
‘More Today Than Yesterday’ , the deeper horns counterpointed by the light percussion and lighter horns really make for an engaging melody, and Darren really delivers in this performance. I have to admit I wasn’t familiar with this track prior to hearing Darren’s rendition but it’s given me a chance to check out Spiral Starecase who I was also previously unfamiliar with.
‘Blame It On My Youth’ the gentle piano chords which open this track perfectly support Darren in this number, and even as it gives way to strings and other harmonious elements, it still remains just a light, ambient support to his strong vocal performance. This track is slow, with a soft melodic beat to it, you just kind of get lost in his voice, and the delicate, sweetness of the instrumental backing. I think you can really just get caught up in good music, and that’s what happened here.
‘Because of You’ goes up tempo, a nice building, sweeping melody, I love the the richness and fullness you get with this type of big band music, the horns and rhythm section, the fusion of instruments creating a wonderful tune, and Darren’s voice is perfectly suited, it all just works in tandem to create something worth listening to.
‘Good Life’ slows things down again, just a touch, the piano in this track especially is a treat, especially when joined by the rich harmony of the other instruments. That being said, the benefit of these songs, and of Darren’s delivery and vocal style, is that it sounds good with or without the music. This one is certainly one of my favourites on the album, it just hits right and sticks in your head afterwards.
‘I’m a Fool to Want You’ the powerful horns ease us into this performance, a building backing melody that just fills up the room. I remember this song from when I was a kid, my mum was always more of a country fan, more Elvis than Sinatra, but she played this one a lot and it just takes me back there. I don’t want to keep comparing Sinatra and Darren, they are both incredibly talented performers and there’s a reason Sinatra’s career and talent survived decades but seriously Darren is a tremendous talent and he should easily go down in the books alongside Sinatra because this song just reaches you and makes you feel every moment of it.
‘Boulevard of Broken Dreams’ starts off slow, a nice blend of piano and percussion, and while I’m a little disappointed (not really!) that even though it would have gone against the overall genre and feel and consistency of the album, Darren was covering the Tony Bennett song rather than the 2004 Alt Rock track by Green Day of the same name. I still thoroughly enjoyed it. Tony Bennett is another of those amazing musicians whose talent just transcends time, and Darren more than does this song justice.
‘Our Day Will Come’ picks things up, the previous song was relaxed and steady, an even tempo number, this one has a little more energy, boosted by the blaring horns and percussion. It’s a very strong number, that is the epitome of easy listening, it’s just smooth and hopeful and just pure excellence.
‘I Can’t Give You Anything But Love’ has plenty of swing and energy, it’s playful and fun the way a lot of these songs are, It’s a strong entry even as we begin to enter the final few tracks on the album. It’s hard to place exactly what because Darren delivers a spectacular performance with each track, but I think this one had some of the strongest vocals on the entire album.
‘My Old Flame’ has a truly beautiful opening, the pure, fresh tones, that blend into the deeper strings creating a rich and beautiful melody, and much like with the last track, there’s something just that little bit extra about the vocals in this one that makes it even better.
‘Dream a Little Dream of Me’ is just an eternal classic, truly timeless like a lot of these songs, in fact it’s been getting a bit of a resurgence lately because it was featured on the most recent season of Stranger Things. I was familiar with a decent amount of these tracks, and I already knew I liked Darren’s classic and cool style, but with a song like this that I love I was prepared to maybe see the rough edges but honestly he really packs a lot into this, his voice deep and powerful, he really goes out on a high note as this was a great rendition of the classic.
So that’s what I thought of James Darren’s album ‘Because of You’ and if you want to check that out for yourself then head on over to Spotify. While you’re at it, make sure and support the artist by checking out their website and by following them on Facebook and Twitter.
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