Having overcome a gambling addiction that threatened to overwhelm him, James Fox found solace in his roots and in music. Last Summer, with the lockdown to contend with, he hunkered down in his London studio and confronted his past. This cathartic experience has produced an album that is at times dark, but ultimately offers true hope.
Fox plays all instruments on 'All The Fours', bar drums. His guitar skills particularly define the sound and give the whole LP a real cohesion. Fox is no stranger to the limelight. His breakthrough came through the BBC's Fame Academy and he represented Britain at the 2004 Eurovision Song Contest. Since then, his talents have led him to work in the West End and perform for no less than her royal majesty, the Queen.
But Fox has known darker times and he's ready to tackle them here. Imagery from the gambling table appears throughout the album. For example, the title track, with its sleazy and funky feel, finds Fox in a reflective mood amongst such apparitions. ‘A Fistful of Anger’ is a blues number that leaves you feeling that you are almost sat alongside Fox and a large glass of whisky in a late night, smoky atmosphere. Musically, this lyrical journey is given a series of big rock 'n' roll backdrops.
However at its core, this album is defined by its optimism. Last year's single ‘Fire and Coal’ finds Fox closing a dark chapter and connecting to his Welsh heritage, "I was raised on fire and coal, music saved my soul". Further hope is found in love songs "The Rest of Our Lives" and "Lifeline". Perhaps the best example is found on album closer ‘Hope’ which starts all minimalist and modern before striking out in the second half.
My personal favourite moment here is ‘Don't Hit Me When I'm Down’ with its jangling riff and big chorus, it really has the feel of a lost, classic REM single. When discussing the album, Fox states "it felt like it was writing itself from time to time". That natural, effortless feel certainly comes across. Fox's story of a personal battle can certainly resonate at this time. Reassuringly it appears to be one he's winning.
Written by Matt Nicholson