Valdosta Daily Times

Features

December 8, 2013

Valdostan sings of light, dark and the grays in between

VALDOSTA — A near-death experience left Jim Sineath uncertain about life.

The year was 2007 and the Valdosta builder felt low, unmotivated, at a loss. He wasn’t sure which way to turn.

Hoping to motivate him, wife Monique had what became a life-affirming and life-altering suggestion.

“My wife tried encouraging me to get back into the game of life,” Sineath says. “She suggested I write a sing for her. ... I wrote a song about her and our relationship.”

That first song provided him a catharsis. Music became a map.

With it, he could navigate his way out of the doldrums and into new experiences. With that first song about his wife, music helped him realize the blessings in his life while providing him with a fresh outlook on living.

Jim Sineath has been writing songs, making music and recording his work ever since.

His just released second CD, “Livin’ Out My Life,” features Sineath using the musical pseudonym Jimmy James. It features an eclectic mix of 10 sings that range from the train-chugging growl of “Roll Him On” to the folk rock of “Dancin’ Flower” to the blues of “Stories She Tells” to the country rockabilly blues of “Drummer Drumming” to the pure boom-chicka-boom country of “Pickin’ Time” to the gospel of “Angels, Hear ‘Em Sing.”

All of the songs have the spirit of the storyteller. Story songs fueled by Sineath’s dramatic sense of pacing with unique vocals filled with emotive wails and growls. A voice that can haunt then uplift, a voice filled with the duality of urgency and longing, like a locomotive chugging nonstop into the night but with that long-distance whistle’s mournful echo.

Sineath has an authentic voice with the believability to switch from tales of honky-tonk heroes and desperation to church choirs and faith. Like Johnny Cash, Sineath can sing of heaven and hell, night and day, and all of those grays in between with conviction.

Sineath is joined in this album’s songwriting credits by Jack Tanner on a few songs.

On the remainder, Sineath shares songwriting credits with Gary DiBenedetto, who in addition to providing backing vocals and various instrumentation produced “Livin’ Out My Life” at Studio D, his Moultrie recording facility.

Each week, Sineath traveled to Moultrie where he and DiBenedetto spent hours from afternoon to late evening working on songs for the CD.

They attracted R&B singer Shaun Murphy to provide vocals on a few cuts. Murphy is a member of Little Feat, was a singing partner with Meat Loaf in the early 1970s, and regularly works with Bob Seger. It is Murphy’s powerful voice that provides the give and take with Sineath on “Stories She Tells.”

Primarily, the album is filled with stories Sineath tells. Though he is beginning to perform live on occasion, it is the songwriting and arranging that keep Jim focused.

“I consider myself a lyricist,” he says. Ever since writing the first song, he feels compelled to write songs. “Why does a mountain climber climb mountains? He wants to reach the summit. Lyrics are in me.”

His experiences and memories fuel the lyrics.

“Stories She Tells” was inspired by he and Monique seeing Bonnie Raitt play a small venue several years ago.

Seeing the Sandra Bulloch movie “The Blind Side,” about a white family adopting a black teenager while finding common ground through football, brought tears to Sineath’s eyes and inspired him to write “Gotta Break Out.”

His near-death experience inspired “Angels, Hear ‘Em Sing.”

“If you face your own mortality, it opens your eyes,” Sineath says. “You don’t see the world the same again. ... I was very surprised what was revealed when I wrote that first song and completed it. I discovered some things that may have been there all along. ... I was amazed I discovered that.”

Jim Sineath’s “Livin’ Out My Life,” featuring Jimmy James and the Hot Grease Band, is available at the Annette Howell Turner Center for the Arts, City Market, Mackey Lumber, Floor Shop, or online on CD Baby.

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