In conversation, Gavin James is shy, humble, and extremely self-effacing.
When he's onstage, though, something happens to the Irish artist - he loses those inhibitions, and is able to sell a song - in the emotional sense - like few other artists around.
Huge in his homeland, Gavin James now has his sights set on the UK. The songwriter's debut album received a full release last month, followed by a mammoth European tour.
Tomorrow night (May 5th) the Irish singer will play an extremely intimate London show at St Pancras Church, a beautiful, historic venue that will serve as a special moment for both artist and fans.
Ahead of this, Clash invited Gavin James to name his Foundations - the albums that really, truly matter.
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Bob Dylan - 'The Freewheelin...'
Bob Dylan's songwriting is insane, I got into 'The Freewheelin...' when I first started to learn how to play the guitar, my Dad brought home the album on cassette and I've been hooked on all of his songs ever since. My favourite song on the album is 'Girl From The North Country' because the lyrics and melody are beautiful, I like what he does when he picks the guitar and it inspired me.
The whole record is, according to me, the greatest album ever recorded. I like the rawness in the songs being mostly just him and his guitar. It’s also good music to travel to.
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Counting Crows - 'This Desert Life'
That record is one of my favourite albums of all time, I love it so much I have a tattoo of the lyrics to 'Colour Blind' on my arm. I got it when I was 15 and my mum wasn’t happy, I really related to the song lyrics in that period and after I left school.
It all started back when I found the album in my dad’s stuff when I was 12, there was a CD left in the CD player and I had no idea who it was because it was just a picture of a fish with no sleeve around. I ended up listening to them every day and the whole time I had no idea who was singing. It wasn't until six months later when I heard the song again in a movie and that I eventually found out.
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Frank Sinatra - Any Release
Frank Sinatra is just class and if there was anyone I'd love to meet (living past or present), it'd be him, he just oozes class and his diction is just perfect: "I've been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate / A poet, a pawn, and a King”.
Beyond his music, I also love the story behind 'I’ve Got You Under My Skin'. It’s said that after they finished recording the last take late at night in the studio, the whole orchestra stood up and applauded because it just sounded amazing, it’s all very epic.
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Jeff Buckley - 'Grace'
The first time I heard him was obviously for 'Hallelujah' and I then got into his album when I was 15. It was kind of the start of a transition going from my Metallica phase to discovering the singer-songwriter universe. I had his album on repeat at the end of school. There’s this piece of lyrics in 'Lover You Should’ve Come Over' saying “she’s the tear that hangs inside my soul forever”... I think it’s beautiful.
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Pearl Jam - 'Ten'
The first track I recorded in the studio with my band when I was 13 was 'Alive' by Pearl Jam, and it sounded horrible, ha! When I got into them is also when I got into all the live stuff. I still listen to all of their albums nowadays, it’s always been my “bed time” music to relax before falling asleep. My favourite song is 'Black' because it’s kind of more chilled out and one of the first songs that got me into acoustic guitar.
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Catch Gavin James at St Pancras Church, London on May 5th - tickets via DICE.