WORTHIE's Weekly Live Performance Spotlight: Shawn James at Gaslight Studio & Lounge

If rough-around-the-edges had a name and a voice, I reckon it would sound something like Shawn James. With his rich musical talent and world-weary baritone, the 33 year old musician has been making his imprint on the blues and folk scene since the early 2000s. I first discovered his music on accident - his track, Through the Valley had been picked up by Naughty Dog Studios for use on the teaser trailer for The Last of Us II. Although James’ own vocals weren’t used for the trailer, the lyrics and melody of the song itself made a lasting impression, and eventually led me to discover the track’s original studio version.

Take a listen to this live version recorded at St. Louis’s Gaslight Studio, which features the incredible Sage Cornelius on the fiddle.

In Through the Valley, I hear a folk piece with an uncharacteristic aggressiveness - in James’ voice there’s both a call to “stay away from me” and “stay and listen”. It’s a vocal style that seems to have gone by the wayside in recent years, and it’s refreshing to hear it in such force here. Served up with enough hipster mountain-man vibes to fill Asheville, North Carolina to the brim, and you’ve got Shawn James.

Can’t wait for more? Check back next week for our next artist spotlight.