Happy Friday, y’all!
Today is a very exciting day for James Dupré — his album Stoned to Death is officially out!
For those of you who don’t know of him already, James Dupré was a notable member of Team Adam on NBC’s hit competition series The Voice. He earned the respect of millions of viewers, however, this was not his first taste of fame. The YouTube sensation had quite the following as early as 2007, and was invited to perform on Ellen in 2010 before landing a record deal with Warner Music in 2011. As a former EMT-paramedic from Bayou Chicot, Louisiana, Dupré’s humility and charm are as memorable as his uniquely strong baritone vocals.
Stoned to Death is Dupré’s newest independent project. It’s 10-song compilation, produced by Jordan Lehning, and features James as a co-writer on seven of the 10 tracks along with hit-makers Jessi Alexander, Neal Coty, and Clint Daniels. Each track seems to be better than the last! The album demonstrates James‘s wide ranged country voice, his love for Louisiana, and who he is as an artist.
Celeb Secrets Country caught up with Dupré this week to talk about his new album and his experience on The Voice. We also were able to listen to Stoned to Death ahead of its release, and are breaking it down track by track —
TRACK 1: “Green Light” — “Green Light” is one of the best songs off of the album. As soon as I heard it I wanted to sing along and it has a perfect rhythm to dance to. It is very upbeat and positive which helps lift the album. The guitar is beyond catchy and the hint of piano is very satisfying. It has a very unique and light hearted country feel to it- you can easily drive around with your windows down and belt this song for the whole world to hear.
TRACK 2: “Forgiving Me” — “Forgiving Me” is one of the sadder but inspirational songs on the album. It really shows off James‘s vocal range. Self-forgiveness is the message of this song and how you need to let go of your past mistakes and become a better person even though it will take time.
TRACK 3: “Someday Today” — This song is another one of the catchiest songs on the album. “Someday Today” perfectly describes home and uses senses such as weather, smells, and views. The amount of detail put into these lyrics are refreshing and unique instead of your typical vague country song- you can really picture the scene set up for the audience.
TRACK 4: “Lonesome Alone” — “Lonesome Alone” is a song about how he wants to swoon a girl but decides to be simple route instead of being too elaborate. He is looking for this girl to keep him company and to patch up the mistakes they made. As soon as I heard this song I instantly began singing along, it is that type of song that you can show everyone and they will adore it and relate to it.
TRACK 5: “Hurt Good” — Everyone has that one person that you have a love/hate relationship with, because no matter what they do there is still something sweet about them that you adore and don’t want to let go of. This is one of the songs that James did not write, but found too important to not put on his album. “Hurt Good” sounds like a song you would hear on high rotation on the radios, and I’m sure that soon it will be! I am very surprised every superstar country artist wasn’t fighting over this song, thats how good it is, but I am glad James recorded this song because he recorded this song perfectly.
TRACK 6: “‘Till the Real Thing Comes” — This song reminds me of the type older country you would hear in the 80’s and early 90’s. “Till the Real Thing Comes” has that Opry legendary feel to it. The theme behind this song is that he knows that this relationship isn’t love, but in the mean time it will do because he has nothing better instead.
TRACK 7: “Whatever That Was” — “Whatever That Was” is based on a early relationship and to growing up fast. It touches upon how relationships are hard when it comes to timing and distance, but sometimes those feelings come right back when rekindle with that person. This is the perfect song for a drive down your favorite backroad on a gloomy evening with your old love.
TRACK 8: “Sad Song” — Essentially this song is about how sad songs make others feel understood and peaceful. They help you through hard times and give you hope. The vocals in this song are so perfect that I could listen to it on repeat for others- it is very soothing and has a Josh Turner feel to it.
TRACK 9: “Perfect Time” — There is a certain time for the certain person, but that doesn’t mean that in a year they will be perfect for you anymore. As time goes on, people change and grow and naturally need different things. Even though you still love them, they might not be what you need in your life and letting go of them is hard but they were perfect for that stage of your life, but not your future. This is one of the slower songs on the album, but is beyond touching and almost every person can relate to this song.
TRACK 10: “Stoned to Death” — “Stoned to Death,” the title track, demonstrates James’s vocal range and is addicting. As soon as I first heard it, I listened to it 12 times in a row, no exaggeration. Even after I stopped playing it, it was stuck in my head for days. James‘s voice is so smooth and you can hear the passion behind what he is saying. When his relationship failed, he felt broken and destroyed because he broke her heart and would do anything to fix his past doings.
You can purchase Stoned to Death here.
Celeb Secrets Country: Can you tell me a little bit about The Voice and how it changed you as an artist or your views on the industry?
James Dupré: “Being on The Voice was fascinating, fast paced, behind the scenes, and all that. One of the things that surprised me was before I went on The Voice I thought it was strictly about music. Being a TV show, it is about music and the story and where people come from. I guess I was naive about that, but I get how important that is. It was a great experience, I feel like I am a better performer after being on that show. Working without a guitar is something I wasn’t used to before, working with a choreographer- learning how to perform with me and not my guitar was something that was all brand new for me and I learned a lot.”
Celeb Secrets Country: Your new album, Stoned to Death, is coming out so soon- do you have a favorite track off of it?
James Dupré: “Yeah, I love them all really, but there are a couple of special songs. They’re all my favorite but for special songs- “Perfect Time” is one that Neal Carpenter and Scooter Carusoe wrote, and I remember the first time I heard that song a few years ago and it hit me like a ton of bricks- I needed to cut that song as soon as I heard it. I was surprised no one had gotten a hold of it already. When we were finishing up the record and it was still available, I was so excited because I had been singing it at my live shows for years now. To my fans, its almost as important to them as it is to me, they’ve been expecting it on my new album so here it is and I’m finally able to give it to them. Another song, one that I did write, is “Someday Today.” It’s a song that I wrote whenever I was feeling kind of homesick from Louisiana. I went into the room with Neal Coty and Brent Baxter and I said- ‘guys I don’t know what we’re writing but I want to write something about Louisiana.’ And of course Coty had lived in New Orleans for awhile so he kind of felt the sentiment- I think the song came out really really well. I’m really proud of that one.”
Celeb Secrets Country: “Greenlight” and “Stoned to Death” have totally different meanings; what is the connection between the two for them to be on the same album?
James Dupré: “‘Stoned to Death’ was one of the first ones we had done. I thought the rest of the album had to sound similar to “Stoned to Death” and then when we were writing “Greenlight” we all agreed that we needed something that was semi-autobiographical. I wanted a song that was about me and my story, but kind of up-beat and positive.”
Celeb Secrets Country: You wrote on all of the songs except for “Hurt Good,” “Perfect Time,” and “Stoned to Death,”- why were those tracks so important for you to put on your album?
James Dupré: ““Stoned to Death” and “Perfect Time” were songs that I had for awhile and those were two songs that I always told myself that the next time I cut a record I want those two songs on there. We had the rest of the record done and “Hurt Good” was the last song that we got a hold of. We were listening to a spit pile of tunes and I was passing on a lot of them, but then we got to “Hurt Good” but before I even listened to it I saw who wrote it and Jessi Alexander was also a writer on “Stoned to Death.” I was really intrigued. When we listened to it, it had a sexy vibe to it that no other song on the record has, so I feel like it added a lot to the album as a whole.”
Celeb Secrets Country: Is there a certain meaning to the album to you that your fans wouldn’t necessarily know about?
James Dupré: “I think I just really focused on songs and production that reflected on who I am as an artist. I’ve always asked myself who I am as an artist and then I think it was after we had all these songs and I was looking at all the songs I’ve written over the years and I felt like there was always some common theme- I’ve always been someone who focuses on great lyrics and these kind of mentions of Louisiana- obvious and not. Being from Louisiana is a big part of who I am, as an artist and as a person. I’m just being honest with myself by putting these songs on the record and hopefully it will feel familiar and comfortable.”
Celeb Secrets Country: Did you have any funny moments while recording the album?
James Dupré: “One of the songs, “Whatever That Was,” we were in the studio and we had just written this song a couple of weeks before and we demoed it. I didn’t tell my manager about it because I was so focused on the songs going into the studio. So we were in the studio that day and I get the demo in an email, I wanted to listen to the first bit just to see what it sounded like and so I called my manager outside and asked him what he thought about the song. So he listens to it and he asks what it is and I tell him it’s a song I recently wrote with Brent Baxter and Neal Coty and that I just got the demo. And I swear he almost hit me because it is a hit and he was mad I didn’t tell him about it. So we went back into the studio and showed them all, and they all thought the same thing. We see this song as the song that almost got away, its actually one of my favorite songs on the record.”
Celeb Secrets Country: Who is your biggest influence?
James Dupré: “I think the biggest one and the one that really got me thinking about being a singer was Vince Gill since I was a kid. Ever since I first got his I Still Believe In You album on cassette. Through the 80’s I guess, geez that makes me sound old, I was born in ‘84 so through mid and late 80’s I was focusing on George Strait and 80’s rock. When I heard Vince Gill’s “Don’t Let Our Love Start Slippin’ Away” that was the first time I paid attention to the voice and since then I’ve always paid attention to the singers. Vince Gill really opened my eyes and my ears to that stuff.”
Celeb Secrets Country: Is there any one album you can’t live without?
James Dupré: “One of my favorite albums of all time is the Kentucky Bluebird album by Keith Whitley, its actually really hard to find. Even that one song, “Kentucky Bluebird” is phenomenal, but the whole record is amazing.”
Celeb Secrets Country: Since we are Celeb Secrets Country, do you have any secrets that you’d like to tell us?
James Dupré: “I guess its not really a secret, but I’m kind of like a huge weather nerd. I was in meteorology for a couple of years and still have hurricane tracking charts and I still follow the weather everyday and I could probably name you every weather channel anchor just by their face. I don’t really keep secrets too much. I’m an open book. ”