- City Pages (April, 2007)
"St. Paul Siren" - Pulse (April, 2007)
"A-List" - City Pages (April, 2007)
"At first glance, she looks innocent enough—she’s small, has a disarming demeanor and has been known to wear pigtails from time to time—but don’t let her fool you. James wields the kind of vocal power that exposes her old soul and leaves it meandering throughout the room as the audience picks their collective jaw up off the floor, and her technical abilities come so naturally that the awestruck facial expressions are justified. Here’s hoping that [Steve] Poltz invites his opener up on stage to sing his most familiar tune... "
--Pulse of the Twin Cities (October 2006)
"JoAnna James the voice: sultry, soulful, a lived-in conveyor of world-weary wisdom alternately seductively breathy or intimidatingly booming in scope..."
--Pulse of the Twin Cities (June 2005).
"Go see her live--bear witness as a tiny, pleasant woman unleashes soul power seldom seen or heard in these parts--and you'll understand. That's the stuff few recordings have captured. That's the stuff you'll wish you could take home."
-- Ripsaw Magazine (November 2004).
"JoAnna James has a stage presence so pure and intense that it makes you forget that you are indeed a stranger listening to a song. You forget that you've never met her. You are drawn in, shaken up a bit, and alarmed at the strength of the deep, rich vocal power pouring into the room...She is truly a unique combination of astounding natural talent and honest writing, with a respect for great musicians that have influenced her path."
- Volume One Magazine (February 2005).
“[K]udos to James for branching out…the best moments on 'Desire' -- and there are plenty of them -- are the simplest, lightest, mellowest songs, especially the Shelby Lynne-like soul ballad 'Rest'.”
-- Minneapolis Star Tribune (Chris Riemenshchneider, July 2005)
"Minnesota has no shortage of folksters on stools with guitars and soulful voices, being the hotbed for musical upstarts that our fine state is. Yet, (diving boldly into cliché wonderland) every so often, someone special comes along who sticks out from among the rest. Lately that someone is JoAnna James, a young, chipper local gal with a voice to die for and a knack for penning deep, rich tunes. Combining the good ol’ Minnesota music elements of folk, rock, and a little blues, James appeals to just about any ear."
--The Rake Magazine (May 2004).
"[JoAnna's] singing voice seems to create a different person when she lets loose. Polite between-songs banter segues into disarming power and sensuality...[She] unleashes an enormous voice that aches, wails, and conjures the essence of sex like she's channeling Otis Redding."
-- www.mnartists.org (October 2004).
"James is a relative newcomer with a bluesy, tuneful vocal that can be sensitive and strong at the same time. What struck me most in her 7 or 8 song set was the sincerity and genuineness of her presentation...Her enjoyment of her own playing made it easy for audience members to do the same."
-- www.howwastheshow.com (David de Young, October 2003).
"JoAnna James is not to be missed. This local artist has been developing a devout following due to her truly amazing stage presence and talent. With her impressively soulful voice, she sings songs that capture your emotions and your attention and will make you forget all of your worries (until she leaves the stage). Destined to become a folk legend, you had better catch her while you can."
--GM (Fine Line Music Cafe, Minneapolis)
“Last Sunday's Guest Session [at the Fitzgerald Theater in downtown St. Paul] featuring the Honeydogs and their friends was absolutely one of the best nights of music I've witnessed in a while. Chris Roberts introduced the night as a hootenanny, and he couldn't have been more right. The biggest surprise of the night was JoAnna James’ rendition of Aretha Franklin's ‘Do Right Woman’. She belted that song out like no one else I've ever seen and it brought the house down.”
-- Minnesota Public Radio’s Cross Currents V.1, Issue 36 (October 2005).
“JoAnna James is a contradiction. She’s young, but after listening to her new CD, Desire, you’ll be convinced she’s really an old soul. James’ voice integrates the best of Bonnie Raitt, Melissa Etheridge, and Patsy Cline, while her music seamlessly melds together blues, soul, country and rock, creating a spellbinding atmosphere…Desire is the rare CD where no one track stands out from the rest because the entire CD is outstanding.”
-- Rift Magazine (October 2005)
"JoAnna James' sweet vocals seem to come from a place far older than her youthful years could feasibly know. James digs deep inside, pulling up the most stunning range of raw blues vocalizations I've heard in this town. Her versatile range is at turns hypnotically smooth as silk, and spine-tinglingly arrousing."
--Pulse of the Twin Cities (December, 2005)
“She’s been out of her teens for only three years, yet JoAnna James’ voice conveys decades worth of wisdom, defeat and, finally, optimism on this sophomore album [Desire]…Vocally, James is a freak of nature. At one extreme, she rasps like a pajama-clad Norah Jones ironing waffles on a Sunday morning, and at the other her wail rivals the late Jeff Buckley, liquored-up under a full moon….Her dense lyrics, all included in the liner notes, artfully tackle mature subjects. It’s enough to leave an audience wondering how such an old soul could be trapped in this youngster’s body.”
-- Missoula Independent (August 2005)
“One of the Twin Cities’ most gifted singer/songwriters . One of the strengths of JoAnna James and her band is the ability to mix musical styles while creating a seamless listening experience. While much of her 2004 self-titled debut is acoustic and quietly introspective, the songs from the new album are darker, bluesier and less self-contained. Trying to mesh these different types of songs together is difficult, so it is a tribute to the band’s talent that they do it without creating a jarring dissonance for the listener”
--www.howwastheshow.com (David Rachac, June 2005).
"James is, by all accounts, on fire."
-- The Wake Magazine (October 2004).