“There are days… days spent wondering what makes life worth living.”
Connecticut soul/folk/R&B fusion artist Austin James’ new song, “On Life & Love,” begins with guitar and soulful vocals resolving out of discord to ask this question. The song’s journey to release is a story of honesty and love finding a way. In times of trouble, it has special resonance.
Its release includes being featured in an Abbott Global commercial–a placement that started with James’ efforts to manage his Type 1 diabetes. In January, James spoke and performed at an Abbott Global event where influencers shared their experiences with the FreeStyle Libre continuous glucose monitor, designed for Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics. The device has “completely altered the way I manage my health on the road,” he explains. His story and song so moved Abbott’s team that they made a commercial featuring Austin James + The Nomads.
Honesty in the Studio
“On Life and Love” features a new band assembled from old friends: Michael Spellman (drums), Spencer Belair (bass), and Tanner Watson (lead guitar). Getting them into the studio together was “a divinely magical experience,” James says. His long-time producer, Andy Casella of Shape Recording, worked some of the magic with their skill at “bringing out the best, most honest performances.”
Stark honesty is fundamental to the song. Meditative guitar underpins James’ soulful vocals, which turn gritty as the lyric tackles how to give and receive love. The production creates white space, with little silences after some drumbeats. In the silences, the strong emotions find room to breathe.
This song has waited to find its moment. James wrote it in Nashville while on tour in 2014. He was thinking about his baby daughter and “how this still new love was so beautifully overwhelming.” Following 2019’s “Anhelo Pt I & II,” a journey through grief at his sister’s death, “On Life & Love” feels like the fruition of the earlier song’s struggle to “breathe in, breathe out.” Where “Anhelo” struggled for meaning, “On Life & Love” embraces the listening with gratitude and hope.
The tone of simple peace resonates in fresh ways today. It’s a song for clearing the head and the soul, for focusing on people we love and small moments,
On repeat listens, “On Life & Love” has the feel of a meditation or a prayer. James hopes it connects on a spiritual level. “I want people to feel some modicum of love and positivity… and carve out a slice of their own meaning.”