James Wright on the Right Track with his new album "Sana'y Ikaw"

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I had the privilege to meet James Wright before the launching of his new album. It was on a BlogCon introducing new artists for GMA Artist Center and James Wright was part of this new batch.  He showed not only his versatility but his rare prowess in singing that will surely make you fall in love when you hear him sing.

Long before the GMA reality talent show Anak Ko 'Yan concluded, James Wright was already marked for stardom. His Top 5 finish didn't deter him from pursuing his dreams of becoming a full-fledged recording artist. And while he may not have won, much to the dismay of his growing fanbase, this striking 18-year old Filipino-Australian upstart from Hong Kong and one of the new faces of GMA Artist Center and E-Talent Management wasted no time in honing his craft and grabbing his opportunities.

His fondness for performing songs that belie his tender years landed him the opening theme song of the Marian Rivera-Alden Richards drama series Carmela, "Sana'y Ikaw", which serves as the lead single of his debut EP under GMA Records. Still coming into his own as a young adult, James doesn't disappoint in the melodramatic "Sana'y Ikaw". He delivers a nuanced performance, soundmg bke a nun genuneiy m love, and more importantly convincing the public of bis credible potential.

We got the chance to have an intimate chat with this hunk last June 5 at Highlands Coffee Timog branch. So how did James Wright sing with oh so good Tagalog songs even though he is half Filipino/Australian, he said that he was blessed with an ear for music, "whatever Tagalog song I hear, I will replicate that tagalog word the exact same sound then add up the tunes so there. All the Tagalog songs I sing I pick up instantly because I really feel comfortable singing it."

What is his favorite song in his album? "I love all the songs in my album but if I have to choose one song from Sana'y Ikaw it would be Kung Hindi Ikaw because the song is like the meaning of if it's not you in this life or another then I will not have another person and that's what I think is love is, if you love that person so much you don't care if he/she is bling/poor or whatever for as long as you love that person."

Sana'y Ikaw EP album is an all orginal album with minus one so that people can sing along their favorite tracks. Vehnee Saturno, the all time awarded composer wrote all the songs in the album because he is also being co-managed by Sir Vehnee Saturno. 

Does James compose his songs too? "Yes, I do, I am just waiting for the chance for GMA Records to also include it in the future. When I write songs, I first write the music because people get in tuned with music or lyrics frist before the beat of the song."

Does James play any musical instrument? "Yes I do play musical instrument, actually I self taught myself with guitar, piano and drums because modern times may youtube na so I just go to youtube and there I practice via tutorials that's how I learn, I was blessed with instruments because when I was young, I was lucky enough that my parents bought me instruments. I believe it is really important that kids nowadays should know how to play instruments instead of just being hooked with games, cellphone or DOTA. It is also plus for an artist that he/she knows how to play instruments because they could feel the music instead of just listening, when you're actually playing it you have a different feeling like this is nice especially when you're composing a song, I usually stay up to 3 am playing instruments and writing a song."

With all five tracks on his debut record (plus the backtracks) helmed by industry veteran Vehnee Satumo, it's clear that this collection of all-Filipino songs lets James' versatile voice to shine. While his songwriting skills take a backseat, James does a splendid job of incorporating his own character into the songs. It's a sappy affair, but in the most positive way, filled with age-appropriate themes of love and longing delivered the 'Wright' way.

Midtempo opener "Ako'y Sayo" hints at a Jason Mraz-like honesty with confessional lyrics atop standard pop arrangements: "Ako'y sayo sigaw ng puso ko, hinding-hindi ako magbabago 'pagkat ikaw lang ang tanging pag-ibig ko." It's hard to believe such a mature, clean sound comes from an 18-year-old who's still in the process of developing his craft.

A brave left turn from the album's direction, but one that pays huge dividends, is "Babe"—quite possibly the best track on the record. With Michael Buble bravado and jazzy vocal stylings, this swinging pop number perfectly suits his crisp, pliant voice that coasts deliciously along big band melodies. What's more is that it feels more of an expression of his true self. It has moments that recall Buble without losing his presence. Listen to^him deliver the line "...hindi na malimot nung unang makita ang iyong mukha na ubod ng ganda" in come-hither fashion and expect girls to flutter in sheer feel-good schmaltz.

On his two other tracks, James finds himself crooning more sweet sentiments. The neo-soul "Ikaw 'Yon" displays his slick falsetto to lift the slow burning ballad to greater heights—and then ambitiously attempts to display his range in the bridge, pulling it off with self-confidence. Meanwhile soaring power ballad "Kung Hindi Ikaw", which pulses with lyrics about settling for The One, pushes James to dig deep and draw emotional context, a task that proves demanding for an 18-year-old.

Overall, this debut set is a gratifying introduction to a fresh-faced newcomer. It's a focused album with polished production and romance-driven compositions. He has enough staying power, not to mention a magnetic charm and steely good looks, to carry this record to mainstream consciousness. For someone so young, it's a solid and mature effort that will help pave the way for commercial success.

James Wright's self-titled EP release is out on CDs nationwide at Astroplus, Astro Vision, Odyssey Music and Video, SM Music and Video and The Landmark record outlets nationwide and on digital format worldwide thru iTunes & Amazon.

For more details visit GMA Records via their Social Media accounts:
IG: @gmarecords
Twitter: @gmarecords

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