Last July James Blundell left the family farm near Stanthorpe in Queensland with a swag full of songs and his beloved Col Clarke guitar in hand. It had been a hard few years. None harder than the passing of his father and brother Peter. James was bone tired. He recalled The Band’s Robbie Robertson’s prophetic words, “The road was our school, it gave us a sense of survival and taught us all we know. You can’t press your luck; the road has taken a lot of the great ones... it’s a goddamn, impossible way of life.”

Of course, James Blundell has been living this “goddamn impossible way of life” ever since he was plucked from obscurity and charmed a nation to win 1987’s Starmaker Talent Quest. In a glittering career now spanning 34 years, 14 albums, multiple CMAA Golden Guitar Awards and induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame, James has experienced the highs and the lows, the acclaim and the infamy, the beer and the bankruptcy, the puzzle of love found, lost, and rediscovered.

Through it all his faith in the power of music to transcend borders and bring people together, the deeply felt bond that exists between him, and his audience has never wavered. It was a quality that Peter Saunderson, Business Affairs Manager of Aussie Legends Hemp, the country’s leading provider of hemp seed oil recognized in Blundell.

At a time when COVID was running rampant and the music industry was one long line of out of work musicians, cancelled festivals and closed venues, the two men forged a deep and abiding friendship based on a shared vision of the benefits of hemp, the plant that has been called the eighth wonder of the world. James became Aussie Legends Hemp’s Ambassador and in turn Aussie Legends Hemp licensed the album James had been longing to make on the newly minted indie label Wonderwheel Music, distributed by MGM.

Which is how last July James Blundell came to the Clubhouse, one of the last great studios in rural America, to record “World Don’t Stop” with the multiple Grammy winning production team of Larry Campbell and Justin Guip. A bunch of money can’t buy musicians including Little Feats Bill Payne, Finnish folk and roots maestro Mika Kuokkanen, Bronx bass legend Lincoln Schleifer, Sydney singer/songwriter, Holly Riva, and Blue Mountains lyricist Terry McArthur.

It does not however explain the why. For that that you must listen to “Sideways”, the incandescent first single off “World Don’t Stop”. Recorded at the legendary Clubhouse Studios in Rhinebeck, New York with the Grammy winning production team of Larry Campbell and Justin Guip, Sideways marks the return of a rejuvenated, creatively recharged James Blundell, singer, songwriter, storyteller, and hemp farmer.

The song kicks off with Larry Campbell’s irresistible guitar riff. James Blundell has never sung or sounded better or been in finer musical company. Sideways like the rest of the songs on the forthcoming album, World Don’t Stop is a jaw dropping fusion of Blundell’s distinctive brand of Australian country rock (not a Nashville twang to be heard) Americana, roots and folk, and New Orleans-tinged rhythm and blues.

“I wrote Sideways with Robert Zimmerman, a no bullshit Texan singer-songwriter, no relation to Bob Dylan ”, smiles. James.” Bill Page from Mushroom Music Publishing and SAFM fame set us up for a Zoom meet and we wrote three songs over the course of that one session. The Sideways chorus arrived fully formed and Robert ran with it.

We found a common theme: he who makes no mistakes, makes nothing. Getting things wrong is not bad, it is an essential part of our growth and development intellectually, emotionally, spiritually.”

As for the addition of hemp farmer to his job description of singer | songwriter and storyteller, James is a certified hemp farmer currently growing trial plots as part of the Queensland Government’s hemp program. He also serves as an Ambassador for Aussie Legends Hemp, Australia’s leading provider of hemp seed oil.

Sideways is the first release from the freshly minted Australian indie label Wonderwheel Music, distributed by MGM.