“At Last” is one of my favorite songs of all time. I went through an Etta James phase (RIP gurl) in 8th grade and listened to that song on repeat for most bus rides to and from school. The string intro provokes instant goosebumps, and James’ first utterance of “At Last” is this beautiful sigh of relief. The song is soulful and powerful, but not overbearing. And at two minutes long, it’s way too short for only one listen.
As faithful as I am (and always will be) to the James original, I recently found a rival version. And no, I don’t mean the first recording of the song, which was featured in the 1942 film Orchestra Wives…
I’m also not referring to the PHENOMENAL and emotional Beyonce serenade, as seen at President Obama’s 2008 inaugural ball (which still leaves me in tears).
Long story short, I’d like to introduce you to Gavin James. This Irish crooner originates from Dublin and joined Ingrid Michaelson for some of her UK tour dates. His album is apparently No. 1 on the Irish iTunes charts, however since the US is generally slow to catch on to great European acts…we sadly won’t hear his EP Say Hello in the States for awhile. James is signed to Believe Recordings, the same label as his fellow Irish songwriter James Vincent McMorrow. However, while McMorrow is acclaimed for his raspy, soft, and moody melodies, James has a smoky soul that melts all over you. To take the analogy a ridiculous step further, his voice is the saccharine frosting on a cinnamon bun, filling pores like a sponge of warm and gooey happiness. It’s fitting that he has the same last name as the woman who made At Last famous. However, I like the contrast between the two. Etta’s is a strong, female ballad; a declaration of love meant for grand stages like the Inaugural Ball. Gavin’s is an intimate poem, geared solely towards some extremely lucky lady.