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An interview with James Levy and review of Pray To Be Free by James Levy and the Blood Red Rose

Singer songwriter James Levy has created a beautiful album of songs duetting with Allison Pierce. Pray To Be Free is out soon on Heavenly Recordings.

Written by Amelia Gregory

James Levy by Natalia Nazimek (Nhtlee)
James Levy & Allison Pierce by Natalia Nazimek aka Nhtlee.

James Levy may need something of an introduction, but his cohort Allison Pierce has already risen to fame as one half of The Pierces (read my welcome back interview here). Not that James Levy hasn’t paid his dues… after touring extensively in the mid 2000s with his previous band Levy he almost kicked it all in before deciding to make one last ditch attempt with his music. Picking over an extensive songwriting back catalogue he chose the best tracks and enlisted Allison to duet with him. The result is a richly satisfying album of songs that reek of infidelity and betrayal: James Levy‘s throaty growl is perfectly complemented by Allison’s honeyed vocals on tunes which whisper of folk, old school romance, big band and country influences.

James Levy & The Blood Red Rose by James Grover
James Levy & The Blood Red Rose by James Grover.

Firstly, how did you two hook up?
I’ve known Allison for about 7 years or so, we were good friends at times, and at other times the currents blew us in different directions. I knew her from around, but ultimately she heard my music on myspace. We tried to sing together over the years, but it never seemed like the right moment until now.

James Levy & Allison Pierce
Why is Allison known as the Blood Red Rose? (it does refer to her right?)
Yes, it refers to her. I suppose the Blood Red Rose is the muse, the angel hovering above.

James Levy and the Blood Red Rose
How would you describe the style of music on Pray to be Free?
I would like to think that it has the swoony arrangements of great crooner records, but I hope it’s modern too. We all tried to keep the spirits of the gentle bedroom demos, and tried not to add melodies or sounds that weren’t intended from the beginning. The strings and horns are a big part of the songs.

James Levy & Allison Pierce by Elizabeth Hudson
James Levy & Allison Pierce by Elizabeth Hudson.

What inspired the lyrics?
Death, love, relationships, and the death of relationships.

What was it like to work with Guy Berryman of Coldplay fame?
Having Guy produce our album was a great experience. He knows what he wants and how to get it, and truly does it for the love of it. He’s a kind soul and a good friend.

James Levy and the Blood Red Rose By Abi Stevens
James Levy and the Blood Red Rose by Abi Stevens.

You’ve been on the alternative gig circuit for some time, what have you learnt over the years?
Don’t try too hard. Nothing good can come from it. Though, maybe I didn’t try hard enough! Oh, and be nice to people.

YouTube Preview ImageSneak Into My Room

Any anecdotes you can tell us from your days touring with the Maccabees?
Orlando and I gave turns giving each other sponge baths each night, as Hugo read to us. (er, really?!) That’s all I’ve got.

James Levy Allison Pierce
What next for James, and will you be collaborating with Allison again?
It seems to be in the cards, but I try not to think about it too much. Maybe a record on my own, maybe with Allison. There are always lots of ideas spinning, but one can’t control the wind 

James Levy Allison Pierce
Pray To Be Free by JAMES LEVY & THE BLOOD RED ROSE featuring Allison Pierce is released on Heavenly Recordings on February 6th 2012.


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2 Responses to “An interview with James Levy and review of Pray To Be Free by James Levy and the Blood Red Rose”

  1. Laura says:

    Thanks for introducing me to a new band infatuation! They have such a gorgeous sound and i hope they succeed but even if they don’t i’ll keep listening. :)

  2. Amelia says:

    so glad to hear you found a good new band!

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