IM, the musical alias of Jim Baron, today announces news of his debut album, Love Makes Magic, out 26th May via Vicious Charm, a new label founded by Damian Harris (Midfield General / Skint Records). To accompany the announcement JIM has shared his irresistible new single, “Still River Flow”. Listen HERE.
Commenting on the track JIM says: “Still River Flow is something of an anomaly for the album, not least because it’s rooted in unabashed positivity. I wanted to create something with a care-free, feel-good spirit. The music and lyrics came together in one big uplifting rush which I tried to embrace and nurture. It’s a simple call to hazy memories, youthful exuberance and a return to the feeling of home.”
Over the last 20+ years, Jim Baron has established himself as a singular contributor to the British musical landscape. Most famously as a founding member of contemporary disco and house outfit Crazy P – one of the best, most-enduring bands within UK dance music. Under his longstanding DJ alias, Ron Basejam, he is regarded as one of underground house’s finest practitioners. His remixes and 12” edit series adding weight and substance to his reputation.
However, there’s another side of Jim Baron’s music that, until recently, has remained unheard. Under his latest alias – the simply-stated JIM – Baron not only reveals a previously hidden side of his record collection, but also a completely different voice, mood and music to what we’re used to hearing from him.On 2021’s ‘Falling That You Know’ EP, we were introduced to JIM’s finger-picked, folk-informed guitar and his rarely heard, delicate lead vocals. It might be familiar to see Jim Baron sing backing vocals with Crazy P, but the JIM recordings are far from the bombast of the band’s live shows. So too, are the soul-bearing lyrics. Truly, it’s a sound that stands in stark contrast to anything he’s done previously.
“Over the years, my musical tastes have grown to include folky guitar players like Nick Drake, Jackson C Frank, Terry Callier, guitar bands from the 60s and 70s like Crosby, Stills and Nash, and some soulful West Coast sounds like Ned Doheny,” says Baron, detailing just some influences that can be heard in the new music. “My own guitar playing was always on electric and was fairly rudimentary. But, I did a project called White Elephant, which was (Crazy P co-founder) Chris Todd, me and Ben Smith. And Ben ended up showing my these fingerpicking techniques. Afterwards, I bought myself an acoustic guitar and spent the next 12 – 18 months playing it every day.”
“It was during lockdown that he really had the time to dedicate himself to the acoustic. And he developed his own style,” reckons Chris Todd. “Knowing Jim, it’s not surprising that he got good so quickly. He’s extremely focussed when it comes to music and will stay up all night when he’s immersed in a project.”
That focus can be heard no more clearly than in the debut JIM album, Love Makes Magic. In just over a year since his first EP, the project has evolved considerably. Featuring a completely new set of songs, the music on Love Makes Magic displays a much greater depth of textures, moods and instruments than the first EP.
Sometimes accompanying the lulled acoustic guitar are newly introduced swells of brass. But, just when you imagine you’ve got the groove figured, a drama of electric unfolds. This ability to surprise, this understanding of songcraft is something we hear often in Crazy P. But, here, it comes in a completely different frame.
The near fragile vocals we met one year ago have now been layered into a kaleidoscope of harmonies – as Crosby, Stills and Nash might have sounded with a funky back beat. Elsewhere, the acknowledged inspiration of Ned Doheny comes to the fore, as we get sun-kissed blue-eyed soul, delivered with the sensibilities of someone who really knows how to make you dance.
Talking about Love Makes Magic JIM says: “The album was written over a really concentrated period during the first lockdown. Everything felt heightened and I had a great opportunity to get lost in the studio. The solitude definitely shaped the albums’ introspective themes. At a time when human relationships were strained in every sense it seemed natural to focus on those frailties and talk about those feelings. It’s easier to look inside without the everyday noise so the stories included are candid and the music is honest. I tried to turn off any stylistic censorship as capturing the feeling was the priority.”