Andrew St James
Words by Sarah Leighton

At his record release party at the Swedish American Hall on June 16, Andrew St. James took the stage and exhibited undeniable magnetism and stage presence that could be compared to that of a younger, blonder, Bob Dylan.

Like Dylan, St. James’ writing is filled with some deeply honest perspectives and great introspection that is well beyond his 21 years of age. His upbringing as an only child in San Francisco debating politics, consciousness, and art greatly informed the content of his work resulting in an album that celebrates reflections of the past in its truest and ugliest form to its most beautiful. Andrew said it best: “Shit’s awesome and shit’s fucked up. I really wanted to put a party record out. This is my version of a party record.”

Overall, Andrew St. James’ newest album, The Big Ole Veronica Apology Record, is a sonic cohesion of work from a turbulent three-year period between albums that eventually landed him back in his home city of San Francisco. In putting the album together Andrew mentioned, “It was funny, because over the period of however many years there were obviously songs that stuck out to me. And when we went to put together this album, it was like how do we make it sound cohesive? The songs and tracks were all finished but it was all really re-tracking them together.” Each song tells a separate story of debauchery and the lessons that ensued.

The more nostalgic tunes such as “In the Morning” and “Sorry About Tomorrow” are very much St. James looking back through his experience, while others such as “Coronation Blues” are simply pop expressions hidden behind the mask of sarcasm to make something serious a little more palatable. “At the point of my life when I wrote ‘In the Morning’ and ‘Sorry About Tomorrow’ and all of them really, that’s such a vivid period of change and stuff in my life that brings me to a point of nostalgia…

[I] wrote [In the Morning] four or five years ago, beginning of college before I dropped out, I was sitting on this shitty demo version for however long, so when I decided to rework it we already had a sonic vision through a couple of the tracks. It was really just sprucing up the other tracks to make them fit together.”

Though the more honest and vulnerable songs such as “Magnolia” and “Capital” are not always attractive to most people, these types of songs are the songs Andrew is most proud. They allow him freely express personal growth and his insight into his own self. “For me, and a lot of other artists, I compartmentalize my experience, feelings, or what I’m going through, and once I have it out, I just move on to the next thing.”

While we aren’t sure exactly what the next thing from Andrew St. James will be, it is apparent that at such a young age we can expect a lot more to come out of this San Francisco native. The evolution between Andrew’s earlier folk-oriented work and The Big Ole Veronica Apology Record allude to continued growth and reinvention. Like Bob Dylan’s exploration in differing directions in his own music, Andrew has shown that he is not afraid to take sizable risks in the creation of his musical style, moving with relative ease from guitar-driven rock to catchy, lyrically charged folk-pop. One thing is certain: Andrew will continue to make records of quality because the most rewarding part of continuing to create music is hearing other’s reactions to how his music has changed their lives.

Raised in the Bay Area and schooled in the mountains of Colorado, Sarah is a lover of live music, ugly dogs, international travels, and vintage treasures.