When local boy James Orr finished school with a degree in engineering and a minor in Japanese, he had a pretty clear path ahead of him: engineering and Japanese. But something was missing. Orr began to feel he'd followed that particular road because that's what was expected of him. As a man in his mid-20s, he had his whole life ahead of him and discovered he didn't want to spend it in the way he and those around him had planned. In 2006, he picked up his guitar and started writing music and playing shows.
Since then, he's licensed a few songs for use on wakeboarding films, and his semi-regular shows at Opa are so packed with people, it's nearly impossible to get through the door (I've tried on four separate Fridays). Orr put his engineering studies to good use as well. He employs looping techniques at his shows, a practice that is, roughly, recording a bit of sound and repeating it while playing over it. Orr said his engineering degree also helped out when he sat down to record, produce and engineer his debut full-length album, Thicker Than Thieves, which he's releasing next weekend at a semi-formal affair. The deep-voiced 27-year-old takes advantage of his baritone sound on the CD but also reaches for highs outside of his usual range.
Thicker Than Thieves is a full, lofty, flowing indie pop album, which Orr said he wanted to be as dynamic as his live shows. He plans to start touring behind it soon, hoping to garner the same manner and number of fans as he regularly attracts in Boise.
Saturday, Jan. 24, 8 p.m., $8, semiformal attire. Linen Building, 1402 W. Grove St. For more information, jamesorrmusic.com.