Portland singer/guitarist Samuel James has just completed his trilogy of acoustic roots/blues albums with “And for the Dark Road Ahead.” The CD-release show is in a couple of weeks, which will give James time to recover from any lingering jet lag from a recent show in, of all places, Transylvania.

The album is home to 13 tracks, including two spoken-word pieces and a doozy of an Elton John cover. GO recently caught up with James for a detailed chat about “Dark Road” and that trip to the land of Dracula.

Why is the album called “And for the Dark Road Ahead”?

Two reasons. The first is that there have been a lot of dark themes in my life over the last few years, and I can’t really see when they’ll end. The second reason is that this album is the last part of a trilogy, and if you take the titles of the albums, they form the sentence, “Songs Famed for Sorrow and Joy, For Rosa, Maeve and Noreen, And for the Dark Road Ahead.”

You put a very unique stamp on Elton John’s “Rocket Man.” What’s the story with that? Why did you choose to do that particular song?

I ran a contest during my last West Coast tour stating that I would play the winner’s choice of a cover song in each town. This was the song chosen in San Francisco, but the woman who won never came to the show. I just wanna make sure she knows that I did it.

Tell me about “The Execution of Big Black Ben.” What was the inspiration?

It goes with the trilogy. On the first record, I had “Big Black Ben.” On the second, I had “Bigger Blacker Ben,” and now to complete it I have, “The Execution of …” I thought it would be a fitting way to end my folk hero’s career. 

“Tan Sedan” is fantastic. What’s that one about?

It’s about everything in the world. I know. The title’s a little obvious. 

How about “Nineteen”?

“Nineteen” is about my father. Straight up. That’s it. I’m a daddy’s boy. What can I say?

Is “Camus” about Albert Camus? Are you a fan of his writing?

Yeah. Well, I had a very serious existential crisis a while back. I wasn’t writing or playing or practicing. I couldn’t come up with a reason to do anything. Of course, this was destroying everything in my life. I had read all Camus’ stuff back in high school, and I figured that he probably went through the same thing, and he probably wrote his way out of it. Or at least he occupied himself through it. This song is my attempt to do the same. 

How was your recent trip to Transylvania?

This was my first time there. I have been as far east as Turkey, which I could write volumes on. Romania was pretty crazy. I was in a place called Sighisoara. I was told that it’s one of the last three remaining citadels in Europe, and it’s the only one that people still live in. It’s the place that Vlad the Impaler was born. Whatever you just imagined it looked like when you read that sentence is probably pretty close. It’s absolutely a wonder. No vampires, though. Kind of a bummer on that end.

What’s next for you?

I’ll have my CD-release party at Space Gallery on Oct. 20, then France and England in November.

Staff Writer Aimsel Ponti can be contacted at 791-6455 or at:

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