Feature: James McGuffie – Lemon Tree

Lemon Tree’ is the exciting debut single from Melbourne singer-songwriter James McGuffie. After nearly a decade of local and international touring, both as a sought-after multi-instrumentalist session player and in his band, ‘Mcrobin’, James McGuffie is beginning a new chapter, writing and recording under his own name.

‘Lemon Tree’ was recently acknowledged alongside industry guns such as Gordi, Ruel, DMAs, The Teskey Brothers, Washington, Lime Cordiale, and Thelma Plum as a finalist in the Vanda & Young Songwriting Competition.

Back in the late Spring of 2019, James took a break from trying to wrestle a stubborn song into existence and, with a clean page and a change of instrument, broke the levy to create this personal but yet familiar narrative; ‘Lemon Tree’.

The song started conceptually in jest, as James scripted a casual phone conversation with his mum, but quickly transformed into a work of inner reflection. In its final form, it had come to represent the many roadblocks that impede the pursuit of ‘something great’ – everything from self-doubt and self-deprecation to lack of conviction and lack of discipline.

At the time, I’d been thinking a lot about what it really takes to cultivate a great anything, and the best example I could think of that was my parents garden” James explains.

“It wasn’t until I failed miserably, multiple times, to keep a bunch of plants alive, that I really came to terms with how much work my folks have put into their incredible garden over the years. This got me thinking about all the factors that can derail your pursuit of creating and nurturing an idea or project. The song stands as an ode to the pep talk’s we all give and receive, as we navigate the peaks and valleys of our own endeavours.”

Despite attempting to re-record the song over a dozen different ways, James kept coming back to his original demo recording from his home studio on the day it was written. There was something so gripping about the track in its rawest form and the place and ease at which it had come that James knew this is how he wanted the song to be heard.

Existing in a sonic space somewhere between Bruce Springsteen and Paul Kelly, James recorded and mixed ‘Lemon Tree’ at home in Melbourne’s inner north. He then enlisted the help of Alex O’Gorman (Angie McMahon, Big Smoke) and Adam Dempsey (Courtney Barnett, Jordie Lane, Didirri) to bring body and warmth to this indie-folk offering.

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