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Comprised of deeply personal songs written between the ages of 15 and 20, the material on James’ first release reflects the sea of changes that occurs in the transition from adolescence to young adulthood. Its title could be interpreted as a symbol for not only new terms, but new perspectives, new people, and new paths across unfamiliar waterways onto more meaningful terrain.


The EP’s seven tracks are performed with a subdued yet intense fervor that illuminates the material’s vulnerable core. With compositions dating as far back as 2015 and as recent as last year, these are songs close and dear to James’ heart: vessels that capture the emotional trials of growing up, pouring yourself into your art, and trying to find your footing in an ever-changing world.


Coated in a delightfully hazy aesthetic, the music on Different Ground offers a charming mix of confessional guitar jams and warm, jangly beach-pop that evokes the cool blue skies and sun-kissed vistas of California’s central coastline. The slow-burning beach-grunge of “Pretty In Your Eyes” binds spoken word into a winding melody to channel feelings of longing and romantic desire. The restrained guitar work and subtle accents of percussion on “Headrush” and a stripped-back rendition of “Malibu” also paint a mellow, summery picture, furthering the project’s meditative mood and ambiance.


Elsewhere, such as on the verbose “My Name Is To Call,” James’ delicate vocal cadence works to great emotional effect, fluctuating alongside the song’s chord progressions to enhance the drama inside the relationship-focused narrative. In these instances, her rhetoric finds joy in the wonder that adorns new romance and comfort in the solace of lost love. This premise is fully realized on the EP’s closing cut and title track, “Different Ground,” which suggests that while the personal differences that often end relationships can be painful, those same conflicts can also be the breeding grounds for immense personal growth.


Different Ground is a project born from youth and shaped by obtaining experience. With her first body of work, Cecilia James has introduced herself as a capable songwriter with an enchanting edge.

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