In today’s age, technology has flooded our lives with content. Caught in the mire are modern musicians who champion an art form that’s more widely distributed than any other throughout human history. And we, more often than not, overlook the music created by unfamiliar faces because it’s challenging. We’d rather have an easy listen, a known quantity to skim through while we think about something else.
Hearing is easy, but listening is difficult. Welcome to “Why We Like It,” where we rebuke the trends in favor of thoughtful analysis and underknown sounds.
“In Love” by Otis James
How We Found It
Do yourself a favor with this one and don’t press play until you’ve got a proper pair of headphones or quality speakers at the ready. “In Love” is one of those songs that perks up the listener’s ears right away. Drawn in by the funky rhythm I immediately began listening for the spark that would take Sydney, Australia-based artist Otis James’ single from smooth jam to exceptional song. My expectations were swiftly surpassed in spades, and “In Love” bounced its way into my favorite tracks of our SubmitHub inbox with a one-two-step and a twirl just for show.
Why We Like It
If music was romance and we built relationships with songs in the same fashion we build them with people, then Otis James is a pickup artist that has me thoroughly finessed. I have a soft spot for the bop and sway of good funk, so the confident keys and grooving saxophone of “In Love” caught my interest from across the dimly lit bar. At first glance, the track wasn’t moving for anyone else, the rhythm was having fun for the sake of having fun. The subtle flairs of strings and the light touch of the vocals betrayed a sense of style that was meant to be noticed, but only by those who paid attention.
While I sipped slowly in the presence of the sound and worked up the perfect words to bring the song into my catalog, “In Love” was already waltzing the way across the dance floor in my direction. With each step closer the beat breaks to an increasingly beautiful scale of chords. The background falls away as my heart rate increases, anticipation, surely the track isn’t headed this way just for me?
It ain’t no use of me lying / To get his love I must keep on trying / I’m in love / I’m in love” – Otis James’ “In Love” (2020)
Words to describe the smooth, elegant aura stuck in my throat, it’s the single that speaks first, “bartender, two of whatever he’s having.” With a sultry smile, a lean and a hair-flip, the beat drops on a track I never would have expected to contain a drop, but love is full of pleasant surprises. The synth following the drop is as low as the bass, rolling out smoothly until the guitar comes back in, taking full advantage of the jaw-dropping moment to work its magic. Before I can regain my composure the deal is sealed. I’m quite in love.
“In Love” is more than just a love song. If the sound of the drop isn’t representative of love itself, then it’s as sonically close to the feeling of being swept away in the emotion as anything I’ve ever heard. It’s simple, it’s complex, it’s breathtaking… it’s the little things. In the moment, I’m imagining the rest of my life with this song; playing in my head when I fall in love; at the wedding as we twirl across the floor in harmony; a life’s worth of nights spent together appreciating the completeness of companionship.
Before I know it, the track has run its course, ending as stunningly as it began. The beat drops again, fading out to the snares and synth. I’m left more than just wanting more. I’m left incomplete, suddenly aware of a gap that’s always been there just beyond my mind’s eye and unable to forget the feeling of having it closed. Otis James is an artist I’ll be keeping up with and “In Love” is a track I’ll keep coming back to for as long as it fills that hole. Here’s to hoping that true love always feels as fresh as the first time.
From Otis James
I had just heard the artist Vanilla and I really wanted to create a song with a similar groove and retro vibe. This one started from the ground up with the drums first than bass and vocal. I wanted to make a B section and the chorus was quite different. So I initially had these two quite different sections… The track actually sounds very similar to its initial inception. The real struggle was combing the verse and chorus sections together. After that, I sat down with my talented mate Pat Byrne (guitarist extraordinaire) who added the last couple of guitar layers in the verse.” – Otis James for CentralSauce (2020)
More From Otis James
Otis James has a limited catalog available on SoundCloud and Spotify but each track is another exploration of funk and instrumentation as exciting as “In Love” (“Dreams of Fame” is another particular favorite of mine). If you’re lucky enough to live down-under, he has a residency at the “Sneaky Possum” Bar in Chippendale, Sydney every Thursday 8-10 p.m. Stay in touch with new music by connecting with his Facebook and Instagram.
More to Discover
Subscribe to the CentralSauce mailing list so you never miss out on the freshest sauce. Check out this continuously updated playlist of songs Brandon has added to our Discovery section! Each track or artist has been featured in our “Why We Like It” section, so be sure to check out the page here on the site.