Our Take: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.’s New Single “James Dean

Our Rating

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., the combined genius of Detroit duo Josh Epstein and Daniel Zott, recently released “James Dean” to promote their upcoming fall tour beginning on October 17th in Seattle, WA. The track shows a definite shift in the direction of their sound. The first thing that struck me about this new song is the obvious use of “pitch-shifting”, creating almost robotic vocals, which departs from those that characterized songs like “Simple Girl” or “If You Didn’t See Me [Then You Weren’t on the Dancefloor]”. The synthesizer takes a bigger role in “James Dean” than I’ve heard in any of their previous songs. However, the vibe from this single is much in line with their earlier work–smooth, low-key, easy–while adding a mellow element to their typically upbeat sound.

Listen: “Simple Girl” by Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.

Listen: “If You Didn’t See Me [Then You Weren’t on the Dancefloor]:

Lyrically Epstein describes (to Esquire) the cynical ballad as one “meant for a world that, for all of its immediacy and convenience has possibly lost some of its mystery” and the tension of being “cool”, but also “keeping it at arms’ length“. They seem to also be commenting on the nature of connection today, with verses such as “the Internet will never love you back“, touching on the notion that our relationships in real space have been hindered by the prevailing nature of technology, specifically the Internet, in our lives. [This seems to be a prevalent theme in recent releases, one that immediately comes to mind being “Digital Witness” by St. Vincent (“Digital witnesses/what’s the point of even sleeping?/If I can’t show it if you can’t see me?/What’s the point of doing anything?“). ]

“James Dean” is  accompanied by a cover  of”Revelation Blues”, creating a pop dance tune from the folk song by The Tallest Man on Earth, which is one of the best arranged covers I’ve heard in the long time. This cover, along with the single, can be found on Spotify. Although I’m a little skeptical about this slightly new direction for the band, I’m eager to hear what else they have in store.

Check out their tour dates below:

10/17 – Tractor Tavern – Seattle, WA*

10/18 – Biltmore Cabaret – Vancouver, BC*

10/19 – Doug Fir Lounge – Portland, OR*

10/22 – The Fillmore – San Francisco, CA*

10/23 – Belly Up Tavern – Solana Beach, CA*

10/24 – The Regent Theatre – Los Angeles, CA*

10/25 – Orpheum Theater – Flagstaff, AZ*

10/27 – Urban Lounge – Salt Lake City, UT*

10/28 – Fox Theatre – Boulder, CO*

11/7 – Scoot Inn – Austin, TX^

11/8 – Trees – Dallas, TX^

11/9 – Fitzgerald’s Upstairs – Houston, TX^

11/11 – Terminal West @ King Plow Arts Center – Atlanta, GA^

11/13 – Music Hall of Williamsburg – Brooklyn, NY^

11/14 – 9:30 Club – Washington DC^

11/15 – Bowery Ballroom – New York, NY^

11/16 – The Sinclair – Cambridge, MA^

11/19 – The A&R Music Bar – Columbus, OH^

11/20 – 20th Century Theatre – Cincinnati, OH^

11/21 – Metro – Chicago, IL^

11/22 – The Crofoot Ballroom – Detroit, MI

11/23 – The Crofoot Ballroom – Detroit MI

Support From:

*Miniature Tigers & Madi Diaz

^ Mini Mansions

Learn more about the band on their website. 

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The Breakdown