How it all began…
When drive meets determination
James Keith has been on the front foot his entire life. Whether he’s captain-coaching a rugby league team to victory on the field or touring the country with a six string in his hands, James understands the power of positivity and it fuels him like firewood to a flame. It’s a theme that runs through the heart of his high energy brand of Country Rock.
James strummed his first notes on a guitar at 8 years of age. Growing up in Orange – a small town in nestled in the NSW Central West’s wine country – he and his 4 brothers spent their days transforming the family farm into a vineyard, now known as Mortimers Of Orange.
“Whilst working at the vineyard I developed a love of music,”reminisces James. “Dad would have vinyls and CDs which we would play all day long.” However, music was not the only passion his father introduced him to.
Rugby league is somewhat of a family tradition - his father, Peter Mortimer, played professionally for 11 years (alongside uncles Steve and Chris Mortimer), notching 5 grand finals with the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs. When the opportunity arose to follow in his father’s footsteps, James moved to Sydney’s Northern Beaches to don the jersey for Manly.
Yet, like a fisherman longs for the comforts of land after a long tenure at sea, music called James back home. It was in his hometown of Orange that he holed up with producer, Craig Honeysett, at Dotted Eight Studios to craft his debut album, ‘Life Is Good Today’.
With James on vocals and guitars it takes cues from the playbooks of acts like Luke Combs and Zac Brown Band; pounding drums, blistering guitars and anthemic choruses are the keystones that support James’ autobiographical tales of positivity and persistence.
He recollects on his upbringing in chilly Orange on foot stompers like ‘This Town’ and ‘When We Were Kids’, while ballads like ‘Love of My Life’ explore the joys of fatherhood.
The album’s title was inspired by a life changing trip to Nashville, TN. “My love for country music started when I visited Nashville in 2011,” he confesses. “All the cover bands kept playing this song with the lyrics "life is good today" which really resonated with me.” A phrase which would soon become James’ life mantra.
Contrary to that mantra, James penned the 13-track album of original music during a time of crisis. “I went through a tough period In my life a few years ago, had a life reset and focused on what was important to me,” he recalls.
Originally he’d intended for his younger brother to sing on the album, whilst James riffed on lead guitar – a format the two have used at countless gigs over the last 10 years. However, his brother declined the offer so he could focus on his own songs and James knew if he wanted the music to be heard he’d have to record it himself. “I am so glad that happened because this would of never eventuated had my brother not knocked it back.”
‘Life is Good Today’ brims with unbridled positivity and optimism. “I look at the positive to every situation and want my music to bring people joy not dwell on negatives.” That’s James in a nutshell – ask anyone - his three children, his four brothers or his father; all of whom are the inspiration behind the family orientated debut album.
Life is Good Today is set for release in 2023, while its title track and lead single is slated to hit the airwaves on October 28th 2022.