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STEADY AS HE GOES

Scott James concentrates on developing his craft

Scott James.jpg

Releasing an EP can be a smart way to introduce a new artist to the music-buying public.

Following it up with two more EPs might seem a little unusual, but Scott James has valid reasons for doing so.

“I started songwriting about four or five years ago, and I released my first EP very soon after that,” James explains. “And then a year later, I released my next one, and now a year later, I’m releasing this one.”

By “this one,” he is referring to Destinesia, which is entirely performed by James, a soft-spoken singer, songwriter, guitarist and pianist from Thousand Oaks, Calif. Oh, by the way: James is only 17, but there’s nothing juvenile about his material — or in the way he’s handled his career so far.

“I’m eager to show as many people as possible my music,” James says, “but I don’t want to rush anything.”

Asked why he hasn’t stepped up his output and released a full-length album, he offers another matter-of-fact explanation: “[I haven’t written] 12 songs that I felt defined who I wanted to be as an artist. Instead I have three or four every year that I felt painted a picture of what I was like at that time, and how I developed.”

Destinesia actually contains six songs (all written by James), among them “Caves In.” The EP was produced by noted session musician Joe DiBlasi, James’ guitar teacher and mentor. And while James credits John Mayer as “the guy who really got me into songwriting,” the artist he resembles the most on Destinesia is the late Jeff Buckley.

“Everyone’s heard [his version of Leonard Cohen’s] ‘Hallelujah,’ ” James says. “When I first listened to his other stuff, I wasn’t the biggest fan. This was two or three years ago. Some of it was a little too out of the box for me at the time. And like a year later, I looked at his music again, just out of curiosity, and I just fell in love with it all. And ever since then, I’ve really been into it.

“I don’t know many people who go beyond ‘Hallelujah,’ but when they do, they’re always very happy they did.”

— By Chris M. Junior

Scott James concert dates (schedule subject to change):

* Feb. 27: Hotel Café — Los Angeles
* April 10: Soho Music Club — Santa Barbara, Calif.