George After James delivers a soulful slice of melancholic mastery on his debut EP ‘Wait For You’

George After James is the project of Auckland-based James George Fistonich. A name you won’t forget once you’ve indulged in the silky wonderment that is his debut EP Wait For You. Somewhere between dreamy alternative folk and the emotive high of a soft-rock ballad, George After James defies singer-songwriter labels.

Hailing with angelic vocals reminiscent of Jeff Buckley’s, George After James is an unabashedly emotional appeal to music heaven on his debut EP Wait For You.

Born and based in Auckland but raised in China, James Fistonich explores the expressionism of someone well travelled. Universal themes of displacement and cultural diversification are expelled through the poetic lyricism in Wait For You. Always unpretentious in his execution, James transforms what could be perceived as a wall of drone into a flexuous melodic experience.

His five-track EP takes you through the paces. All Around is a slow burn prologue of sonic extremes. Layered and intricate guitar work showcases James’ dexterity. It set the scene for the bouts of melodrama yet to unfold. Track two and first single, In Your Hands (You Won’t Let Go). The falsetto frenzy begins. It’s clear why James chose to lead with this riff-ridden jam. There’s a funkadelic edge toyed with church-like organ appropriating keys while the wavering hook “You won’t let go” is left to soar above.

You can catch the live video of In Your Hands (You Won’t Let Go) below:

If In Your Hands is George After James’ hit, One I Call Home is his masterpiece. Starting at a whispering lower register, the lid is lifted on his songbird. It’s hard not to draw comparisons to the arch-angel himself Jeff Buckley. James’ tone is apologetic but never embarrassed as sparse instrumentation makes way for the pure vocal drama. There’s something hauntingly synonymous between James’ vocal leap to that of Thom Yorke’s in the chorus of Radiohead‘s Creep.

Rounded out with a slight country twang on Goodbye and the hopeful, upbeat musings on the title track, Wait For You has something for everyone. If you find a pensiveness in the song-writing of Eddie Vedder, and a divinity in the gospel reach of Matt Corby, you’ve found a body of work worth listening.

And if you’re across the Tasman next week, George After James are launching the EP in Auckland, at the Upper Room Basement, Feb 3. We predict you’ll want to witness this live. For a quick sample, check out One I Call Home in all it’s live glory below (we’ve been sharing this around the office):