The eclectic, roots-rock-flavored music of Derek James takes style notes from singer/songwriters like Jack Johnson and John Mayer, and rings of rock 'n' roll bands like Coldplay.
Interestingly enough, most of his new album "Stray" was written in the basement of a family's home in a New York City suburb, where James worked as a live-in nanny. James took the nanny gig after playing shows in southern Europe and returning home to NYC.
He needed food and shelter. So when he came across a classified ad seeking a nanny for a boy, he met with the family and took the job.
"The parents worked all day, and they just wanted to make sure he wasn't getting into too much trouble "¦ and not putting fireworks in mailboxes and stuff like that," James said.
The situation worked out and James became more of a family member than family employee.
"They ended up getting more of a surrogate son than a nanny, and it worked out great," he said. "I named the album 'Stray' kind of partly because I felt like a stray while I was there, kind of taken in by this family to be a nanny, but it wasn't really exactly my place in the world." "Bryan Mangieri