It was only the tipping point, but a layer of ice could take the blame for sending JoAnna James packing.

After a gig in St. Cloud last November, the folkie-gone-soul singer was caught off guard by a hard frost that had crept up over her car windows. Without a scraper, she used a CD case and flustered her way through the ice, thinking about how she'd be doing this for the next five months.

"I don't know if I can take another winter," James recalled thinking to herself. Actually, she said it out loud. "By the time I realized I was talking to myself, I'd made up my mind."

OK, so we've all been there. But we don't all have bubbling music careers and the artist/poet/songwriter urge to roam, which are the bigger factors in James' decision to follow a new path.

Following Friday's show at the Fine Line, the 26-year-old singer/guitarist/violinist plans to cram whatever will fit into her Saturn and move to Los Angeles. She's never been there. She's never even lived outside Minnesota. And those are two more good reasons why she's doing it.

"One of the best things and the worst things about the Twin Cities music scene is it's so comfortable to be a musician here," James said over hot soup on another frigid day two weeks ago.

"I feel like I've gotten too comfortable, and I'm not applying myself the way I should. I need to get somewhere outside my comfort zone -- somewhere to make me think harder about what I'm doing and to get me more excited."

She chose La-La Land over New York partly because she thought she'd feel even more displaced under the California sun/smog, but also because working on film or TV music is an ultimate dream of hers.

More immediately, James is hoping to get work as a backup singer and violinist. And if nothing else, she said, "I plan on playing anywhere and everywhere I can to get in front of new people."

"From what I've heard, a lot of people who go to L.A. for music or movies or whatever expect everything to be handed to them, like it's just going to happen. That's one of the advantages of being from here: I know nothing comes for free."

James certainly has shown a hard work ethic in her time here. Since she started performing in the early '00s, she has typically kept up a regimen of at least a couple of gigs a week. She has also issued two full-length albums plus one EP, "Back of My Mind," which came out last year. One track on the EP, the still and haunted-sounding "Disappear," might have even been the first clue James was headed somewhere new: "I need to disappear for a while," she sings in it.

She found a place to live in L.A. and a day job, thanks in large part to fellow singer/violinist Jessy Greene, whose house in Minneapolis has been James' home while Greene has been on tour with the Foo Fighters. Greene is also planning to resettle in L.A. after the Foo tour and the two will be roommates. But where Greene has steady gigs guaranteed, James knows full well she's starting with a clean slate.

"And that's exactly what I'm going for," she said.