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GH’s James Patrick Stuart Previews His Second Album, Clean Slate

In 2019, James Patrick Stuart — whose father, the late Chad Stuart, was a renowned musician best known as half of the British pop folk duo Chad & Jeremy — released his first album, The Apple Tree. “That one was a gift for my father, who we all knew was nearing the end of his life,” the actor says. “He raised me as a musician. I was a drummer by the time I was 3 or 4 years old. He had been saying to me my whole life, ‘Where’s my album? Where’s my album?’ And I was able to make an album with 12 songs materialize for him! He was very proud.”

But Stuart didn’t feel like his work was done — and the result of that unfinished business is his follow-up album, Clean Slate, which was released on July 15. “There were a couple of songs floating around that didn’t make it on the first record that I wish had,” he explains. “A guy that I worked with, a songwriter that passed away just after The Apple Tree came out, we had been talking about doing this crazy Treme, New Orleans jazz version of one of his tracks. It’s called ‘Look Out Below’ and it’s about coming a little close to the darkness in life. But the song also has a great beat to it — really bouncy, extremely hummable, great background vocals — and so that’s the first track on the [new] record. That’s actually what started this: That song needed a home and the rest of the songs just sort of started to grow around that.” The actor, who had “a collection of songs I was working on over Covid,” originally intended to release Clean Slate last Christmas, “but my father’s failing health put the brakes on things.” He passed away on December 20, and left behind “a song unfinished on his piano, a gift to his wife” that ended up changing the course of the record. Stuart’s stepmother “sent me the sheet music and said, ‘Will you consider recording this?’ I said, ‘Of course!’ My father’s love affair with his wife continues from beyond through that song. It’s called ‘Another Time’ and it’s about as amazing as you think it would be, about a guy who’s facing the fact that he’s going to have to leave, but he definitely sees them together another time, whatever that would be.”

Getting that song just right further pushed back Stuart’s timeline. “My father’s from Northumbria, from the Lake District in the north of England, and there’s a pipe that’s almost like a bagpipe, but is much smaller than a bagpipe, that is indigenous to that part of the world. You hear it a lot in soundtracks, [including] Titanic. It’s a very specific instrument and I knew I needed to have it on that song. It took me awhile to find the right guy [to play it], so it took about three or four months for that song to jell. It’s done with Northumbrian pipes and a guitar and a fiddle and it’s just perfect for him. It was all meant to be.”

Stuart feels that Clean Slate reflects his growth as an artist. “I’m definitely more evolved as a producer and a performer at this point,” he offers. And when it came to song selection, “The songs found me — but at the same time, I’m not a kid, and I had songs that through my life I’ve just been thinking about, songs that really meant something to me.” While The Apple Tree was an homage to his father’s music, “I knew I wasn’t going to have a bunch of my dad’s tracks on this. I thought about doing a really cool, jazz combo version of ‘Will I Weep For Me?’ And who knows, that might be the third record, to do an interpretation of a couple of Chad & Jeremy songs. But that’s not what this is. This record is very personal, except for the fact that it’s got my father’s last song on it.”

Expect the sound to be a departure from the first album, as well. “Sax appears in, I think, four tracks on this record,” Stuart reports. “I just needed some brass! I was very cello-heavy and very string-heavy on The Apple Tree, and now I’m very brass-heavy on Clean Slate. Clean Slate has great sax, trumpet and trombone on it. There’s actually a song on there that I covered called ‘Always Love You’, a song from a father to a daughter, which I dedicated to my brother and his daughter — but any GENERAL HOSPITAL fan is going to realize that I put it there because of young Scarlett [Fernandez, Charlotte] and because of our connection on that show and because she’s as important as any co-star I’ve ever had. That actually has an oboe on it, and my friend Christine Wu [who has accompanied Stuart during his Nurses’ Ball performances on GH] not only plays two cellos but a violin on it. It sounds like George Martin, the producer of The Beatles, having a field day at the end of that song! But I’ve always believed that an oboe is one of the most melancholy instruments and so I had to have an oboe. Everyone I know was like, ‘What the hell are you doing putting an oboe on a pop record?!’ But it works! And I do a lot more drums.”

But he’s not the only featured percussionist. Enthuses Stuart, “As a drummer, my inspiration was a man named Omar Hakim. Omar was in Weather Report and played on the Let’s Dance album with David Bowie, and when Sting decided to leave The Police, he hired him to be his new drummer for The Dream of the Blue Turtles record. I sent a message through my agent to Omar Hakim, along with a song called ‘World of Good’, and he sent back a message saying, ‘This is a great song, I’d love to play on it.’ That was one of the blessings for me of the lockdown, having access to Omar Hakim. I produced the song with him over Zoom and got a chance to watch him drum, and he got a chance to comment on my drumming and my production. It was just a blessing. On ‘World of Good’, it’s just basically him and me; he plays the drums and I play everything else. That ended up being a real joy. It was just a real pleasure to be able to hold my own with him. That was probably the coolest part of it, aside from meeting him and talking to him. There was a bit in the bridge where I said, ‘I need you to do that left hand bounce, man, I live for that bounce!’ And when he sent me the take, and you heard that left hand bouncing on that snare drum, it was just insane, because I used to practice that move when I was a teenager to his records! To be able to ask him to do it and have him send me a take with it on there was pretty damn cool.”

He got to collaborate with another artist he admires on Track 6, “I Burn For You”, a song close to Stuart’s heart. He shares, “When I was a kid, I followed The Police, and then a kind of unbelievable. So early in my life, I got a chance to go stay at Sting’s house in Malibu and Sting’s house in New York, and I got a chance to watch him put together songs like Nothing Like The Sun. I just always loved the way he put songs together and I wanted to try my hand at an obscure Sting B-side, a track from [1982’s] Brimstone & Treacle soundtrack, which has always been a favorite of mine. I’m just sort of reaching back in history to when I was a child and doing a favor for the kid in me, covering that song.”

Stuart continues, “Matt Politano, who is a brilliant jazz pianist, it’s just the two of us [on that track], me on double bass and Matt on piano. That’s another one of those gets where I could never have gotten him if he was busy touring. I reached out to him and said, ‘I’m a massive fan, I’ve seen you play live all over the place, would you be willing to play on a track?’ And Matt said absolutely, he’d be happy to. When you listen to ‘I Burn For You’, he puts the hair on your arms up! You just can’t believe anyone can play like that. And it’s all spontaneous! Something is channeling through him and I don’t know how he does it but I’m glad he does.” Stuart cops to having been somewhat nervous to approach his idols about playing on his record, but notes, “During Covid, it occurred to me that there were guys out there twiddling their thumbs who would normally be touring. When you’re stuck at home during quarantine, you get this sense that people are looking to do stuff! I’m sitting there growing fat as a lamb eating pretzels and watching OZARK for the third time and I’m thinking, ‘Maybe they are, too!’ ”

Stuart is satisfied with the finished product of Clean Slate. “When I was a young man, all I could think about was other people’s opinions of me,” he admits. “But now, I’m not in a position where the music is my livelihood. If people hate it, fine — the truth of the matter is that I like it, and I’m proud to put my name on it and I have had sincere joy connecting with brilliant musicians, a brilliant mixer, and we’re all happy with what the result is. If people don’t respond to that, it’s not going to make me question my judgment. I’m not going to look at it and go, ‘Oh, in that case, maybe I’m wrong, maybe this sucks.’ It’s like saying Chinese food is bad or pizza is bad. It’s like, ‘Well, maybe you don’t like this, but I really like this!’ ”

Clean Slate is available digitally on iTunes, Amazon Music and other platforms. CDs, including a limited number of autographed CDs, can also be purchased at