James LaBrie, known internationally as the vocalist for progressive metal icons and Grammy winners DREAM THEATER, will release his fourth solo album, titled “Beautiful Shade Of Grey“, on May 20. The third and final track to be launched before the album is released is “Am I Right“, and you can watch the Wayne Joyner-directed video below.
James comments: “The anthemic song of the album with gorgeous chordal picking and progressions. A perfect marriage between melody and music. Extremely dynamic throughout with an epic and glorious ending.”
LaBrie’s collaborator, bassist Paul Logue (EDEN’S CURSE) adds: “This song was a real labor of love from James and I. It holds a special place in our hearts and has such emotion, feeling, melody and the climax is just fantastic!”
The climax of the song features the gorgeous voice of Theresa Thomason, famous to DREAM THEATER fans for her participation on “The Spirit Carries On” from the band’s lauded “Scenes From A Memory” concept album.
The new endeavor sees James traverse personal maturation, loss, a myriad of complex relationships and, most importantly, LaBrie’s burning passion for music. On paper, the latest studio offering from the Canadian singer first took shape shortly after the global pandemic began to emerge. But in reality, LaBrie formed a bond with Logue nearly a decade earlier.
The two first met in 2011, when James would lend his voice to a feature for Logue’s band, U.K. melodic metal outfit EDEN’S CURSE, on the song “No Holy Man“. As years went by the two remained in touch, occasionally kicking the tires on the idea of working together on another project. But when DREAM THEATER performed in Glasgow during the late winter of 2020, LaBrie and Logue would run into each other at the airport — once again asking the question. But this time, armed with the knowledge that a drastic change in the world was all but imminent, LaBrie made the decision to set things in motion.
On the album, Logue plays acoustic rhythm guitar (both six- and twelve-string) and acoustic bass, while guitarist Marco Sfogli, who’s contributed on all of LaBrie’s solo albums since 2005’s “Elements Of Persuasion“, handled the leads and solos. Logue recruited EDEN’S CURSE keyboardist Christian Pulkkinen to lend his playing on the record, while the suggestion to recruit James’s son Chance to play drums would also come from Paul. “Beautiful Shade Of Grey“, as LaBrie describes it, was a title that only came to him once he identified the record’s two core themes throughout its track list.
“A lot of these lyrics are dealing with the beauty of human beings, and a lot are dealing with the grey areas of the in between,” James says. “You’re not exactly happy, but you’re not exactly sad either.”
The record starts off (and ends) with the track “Devil In Drag“, which emerges as a wall of synthesizers and acoustic strumming before exploding into a full-blown ensemble. LaBrie expresses that the song was written about “someone who started out as a decent human being, but along the way lost touch with their roots — over time becoming self-serving, narcissistic and devoid of principles or values.” Going on to say, “‘Devil In Drag’ is written from the perspective of someone who’s known them all their life and, seeing them now, asking ‘what happened?'”
“Beautiful Shade Of Grey” will be released as a limited CD digipak, 180-gram LP, CD and as a digital album, with artwork by Thomas Ewerhard.
James Labrie’s “Beautiful Shade Of Grey” track listing:
01. Devil In Drag
02. SuperNova Girl
03. Give And Take
04. Sunset Ruin
05. Hit Me Like A Brick
07. Conscience Calling
08. What I Missed
09. Am I Right
10. Ramble On
11. Devil In Drag (Electric Version)