James Intveld: Old school and swoonworthy.
James Intveld: Old school and swoonworthy.

James Intveld

The best music takes you places, both inside and outside yourself. As its name suggests, James Intveld's third release, Somewhere Down the Road, does just that, and you may never want to leave. You'll be afraid to turn off your stereo, lest you forever close the door to the album's power of revelation. One thing yet to be revealed is why L.A. veteran Intveld isn't a huge star. Sure, maybe his traditional country/rockabilly troubadour style just doesn't play to the masses in 2000 like it might have in 1955 -- the kids don't get it, and the old-timers have stopped listening. But that won't convince anyone who's seen him perform live to his typically cross-generational audience, entrancing all kinds, from 8 to 80. This is classic stuff in the truest sense, out of its time, yet timeless all the same.

Intveld wrote or co-wrote most of the material on Somewhere; he also co-produced (with Michael Turner) and, of course, played a range of instruments (guitars, upright and electric bass, drums, piano, organ and mandolin). He's given us an album to get lost in, with songs that demand attention, refusing to blend into the atmosphere. It's near impossible to listen to Intveld's music and not form an emotional connection.

It's on the ballads in particular that he really gets to you, in a way that might embarrass the usually unsentimental. The sparse and haunting "Sinner's Prayer" could make an atheist ask for God's grace, and even cynics and those who loathe love songs will cry out for every lover they've ever lost after hearing "Love Calls," "What About You" or "If I Should Lose You." On this last one, when Intveld's silky voice confesses, "If I should lose you, where would I be?/All my tomorrows would mean nothing to me/Like falling from heaven on a broken wing/Because if I would lose you/I would lose everything," tears are bound to flow; no doubt thousands of women would pledge anything to be the "you" referred to in the song.


James Intveld

Rhythm Room

Scheduled to perform on Tuesday, October 17. Showtime is 9 p.m.

Admittedly, it sounds like pure hokum -- and in less able hands, it absolutely would be. But there's something to Intveld's earnestness that's undeniable; add to that his impeccable phrasing, the evocative and skilled playing by him and his band and the full, clear production, and the music never veers over the edge into bombast.

Intveld's one of the few old-school, swoonworthy idols we have left. It certainly helps that he's quite a handsome fellow, but that's not the root of his appeal; he could look like he was run over by a truck and still have that soul-stirring power. It's in the voice and in every note.


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