Brother James is the monk-inspired, intimate singer-songwriter project of LA-based producer, songwriter, and storyteller Justin James Sinclair. Brother James’ songs document a spiritual journey in pursuit of truth, goodness and a fully present, meaningful life — inviting others into the journey, and more deeply into their own.
Lyrically clever yet powerful and musically complex yet moving and accessible, Brother James’ influences include Paul McCartney, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Sleeping At Last, Flannery O’Connor, Randy Newman, Leo Tolstoy, Jacob Collier, and Plato.
Outside of Brother James, Justin has worked as a freelance musician, producer, manager, and songwriter with a wide range of artists including The Brilliance, Dylan Gardner, Scary Pockets, Pomplamoose, and Jenny Owen Youngs — and Brother James represents the most personal, intimate parts of Justin that don’t quite fit in any of these projects.
Leading up to the first single release on October 4th, Justin has been sharing this music in intimate house concerts and some of the things he’s heard back so far are:
“Your stories are powerful and meaningful”,
“This was a beautiful concert and tonight you became one of my favorite artists ever”,
“I’m grateful for you asking the hard questions that are in many of our minds”,
“The beautiful space you cultivate with your music has given me words for, and a way to process, so much of my journey.”
October 4th release of “Witness” –
“Witness came out of a conversation with my songwriter friend, Robin Schorr. We sat down to write together, but started by catching up. I told her I was definitely not about to write a happy song – that month had been pretty awful for me, having just stepped away from a long-term relationship and much of my community all at once. It was a very disorienting, lonely time. She patiently sat with me in my pain and didn’t claim to understand it – and then asked “what do you wish someone would say to you right now”?
Witness is what came out of that conversation, and I hope that it can be a comfort to you in moments of uncertainty, loneliness, and disorientation. I hope that you’ll feel seen in listening to this song, that you’ll hear the voice of someone you love, and that you’ll make space to listen to and care for those who need an ear in their pain.
November 1st release for “Good Country People” –
“In her short story Good Country People, Flannery O’Connor tells the story of a country-raised, college-grad-turned-atheist woman with a prosthetic leg living at home with her family, and a bible salesman who comes to town and asks her on a date. The woman’s name is Joy but she changed it to the ugliest name she could think of, Hulga, in an act of protest toward her mother – who all the time talks about how “we’re good country people – we ain’t trash.”
The whole time Hulga looks down on this bible salesman and believes herself to be smarter than him, seducing him into the woods, and into the second-story of a barn — where he asks to remove her prosthetic leg in an “act of intimacy”. Once he stands up with her leg in his hand, he tucks it into his bible briefcase alongside his alcohol and other stolen artifacts from women like her, gloats about his unbelief, debauchery, and nihilism, and then leaves her for dead in the woods.
In a time of grappling with the faith I grew up with, I could see parts of myself and parts of my culture in each character of the story, and I started drawing connections to televangelists and pharisees and my own culture and people. Moralism, deception, self-deception, dehumanization — and “Good Country People” is what came out of my own story’s connection to the story of Joy and the bible salesman.
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Today I’m heading up to a monastery/hermitage in Big Sur for a 2 week retreat. (By the way, it’s been about a year since my last post. Hello.) I’m breaking the silence with this post first of all to say: I won’t have access to the outside world, except for a few minutes of wifi a day – so if you need to get in touch send me an email – I won’t see IG messages/comments and likely won’t see texts. firstname.lastname@example.org But while we’re here, a life update: For the past year I’ve more or less taken a break from social media completely. This trip is how I’m going to end the year – the retreat will be the first half of a 30 day “Tech Declutter” as recommended by Cal Newport in his book Digital Minimalism – cut out all non-essential tech from your life for 30 days, spend that time considering your deepest values, and then reintroduce tech carefully only in support of your values. Originally the retreat was was just an excuse to spend extended time with a singer-songwriter monk named Cyprian, but after a few unexpected turns into a few foggy, anchorless, directionless months it looks now like a much-needed time of rest and reflection. And it serendipitously lined up perfectly with the end of my time off social media, finishing Cal Newport’s book, as well as a fresh burst of energy and clarity about my beliefs, philosophy, and the direction of my career and artist project. For example, this song – largely inspired by Cyprian. It’s a little taste of what’s brewing for my artist project – a demo version of one of the songs I hope to release on streaming platforms etc. by the end of the year. If you want to hear the whole thing, read the lyrics, download it, and/or hear some other demos – head to found.ee/digdemo (link in my bio) where you can do any of those things aaaand help make these releases possible in the process! Love – Justin
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Hot take: an open ear and an open heart are all anyone will ever truly need from you. Take a moment to slow and listen to someone’s pain today. Prepping for the first Brother James show, tonight with @layniemitchell opening in East LA! Get tickets @ justinjamessinclair.com/#shows (linked in bio) ?: @thejoylee
“To me the biggest struggle is staying present, alive, and grateful. The most difficult thing in the world is living each moment fully alive and embracing who I am where I’m at.”