New . Music :: James Blake Puts The Colour In Anything.

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It was the perfect time for the shadowy figure known as James Blake to emerge from the London mist or whatever part of Narnia woods he lives in and unleash a complete masterpiece. I had no expectations, like going to a movie with your friends, that they are all extra hyped about but you didn’t even see the trailer but you know the director is good so you don’t doubt it and that movie ended up being “City of God”. Fresh off of his collaboration’s (“Forward” and “Pray You Catch Me”) on the iconic and stellar Beyoncé Lemonade album (which he wisely pushed his album back to make proper room for), this is a very surreal time for the 27 year old walking talking myth. This album comes crashing onto the shores of your ears in a way that is refreshing and scary at the same time. He himself is a genre, and on this record he pushes that genre even further. This is his most accessible sound yet, not that James hasn’t been creating music that we could all connect with but it’s been so abstract at times we’ve have no idea what the songs are about which causes most of his earlier work to fly over the heads of many. He feels ready to show you himself on this album. The listenability and songwriting are now in the forefront of the piece, so much so they are on the same level as his unpredictable and brilliant production. What we are witnessing is a more extroverted introvert. What has he been holding back? A full album of “Retrograde”. Creating the most interesting turned down turn up music, James himself told The Guardian “The xx set the precedent and I set the further precedent, and the music world has bent to that sound,” he says. “It’s like the opposite of punk, isn’t it? I got them all to shut up. I’ve subdued a generation. That will be my legacy.”

 

“Radio Silence” starts us with James in high form showing us what we wished he heard from Champagne Papi on “Views” as far as the level of creativity that’s possible while writing about a love unrequited. Sampling Bill Withers  “Hope She’ll Be Happier” the sound is lavish and booming, I want to see this song live I don’t care about how much tickets are le go !

“Timeless” was supposed to feature Kanye West and high key I’m kinda glad he isn’t on here rapping about rich guy problems or getting bleach on his shirt (I think James heard Pablo and was like naaaah I’m gucci, imagine James lake saying “I’m Gucci” real quick). “Timeless” is a very hard edged almost “Kick In The Door” like banger that will give your car speakers a nice exercise. The arrangement intensifies much like the latter half of “Voyager” from the OVERGROWN album but something about this feels even more next level to keep up with.

The most mind blowing plead for full presence from a lover comes in the form “Put that Away And Talk To Me” asking her to put away thee technology, mask, the distractions, the whatever we all hide behind to actually speak. Drawing you with the silence, it feels like a metaphor for more. These lines really stood out on their tippy toes at me :

“You’re not the only one with a fantasy”  

“Do you like it when your hero’s live? Where is your beautiful life?”

A string driven deep house influence jam “I Hope My Life” I hope I’m right when I’m speaking my mind, I hope my life is no sign of the times” I’m not sure if this is a Prince reference but that’s how I am taking it. This song takes me places and I can’t wait to spin this live.

“Willing Heart” hits a place reserved for The Beatles level of beautiful songwriting. Co-Written by Frank Ocean this is when I knew I was listening to an album that was something I had never felt before. There is a melancholy interesting here, that should not be mistaken for sadness, there is such an art to sampling yourself James displayed at it’s highest potential here. Please enjoy this at your leisure.

 

 

This brings us to one of the most emotionally jarring moments on the album on “Choose Me” James sings with a desperation we have never heard. I love EVERYTHING about this song. Jeff Buckley levels of amazing (I don’t say that lightly). This is so emotionally charged I’m writing this write up on the brink of tears. You are gonna want to replay this song a couple times.He could never make another song ever after this, I would be satisfied. This song contains everything we love about James Blake. This song reminds us we love James Blake. This is the song you show your friends if they have no idea who James Blake is.

 

 

“I know there are places that I can’t go with you
You say that all these flowers bloom
I don’t wanna run a ring past you
I’d rather you chose me every day
I’d rather you choose me
I looked into myself like a case with you
Have I?
You don’t weigh me down like you think you do
I’m not looking to hold you down
I’d rather you chose me every day
I’d rather you choose me”

 

james.2.

 

I mean wow, yea sorry *wipes tears from face and continues listening*, the next song “I Need A Forest Fire” featuring Bon Ivar starts with the first time you ever hear James Blake with a rap like adlib “WHEW” like he knows what he’s done, he knows what he has created. This song needs a fire department no lie.

The title track “The Color In Everything” feels like a pep talk between artist and uninspired artist, or self and uninspired self, optimist and glass half empties. Through the darkness he is able to find the color in anything and he can’t help you if you can’t. Low key a very beautiful sorry but not sorry. The flood of sounds that cover you in “Two Men Down” has James using an untouchable falsetto and instruments and distortion we have never heard him interact with, I have no idea where he was gonna take us with the strange guitar licks in the beginning, but again we land in very pleasant garden of sounds somewhere in Gallifrey. “Modern Soul” feels very much like it was created in the OVERGROWN era of things, it feels familiar but in a way we welcome. The ballad with it’s wobbly notes and textured drums panned all over the spectrum coupled with said sonnets you can only fall in love with. This song continues to build and draws you closer to this place and allows you to breathe again.

 

“Always” feels Stevie influenced, and infused with optimism over cinematic well traveled production, he does what James does and unpredictably chops up his already amazing vocals in this jarring way you understand has purpose to it. This song is a feeling.

 

Ending the album on a more subdued note with less of a song and more of a mantra “I Met You In A Maze” is meditative yet vulnerable and more of a thank you note than a love song. 

 

“All those songs that came before you
They were once awaiting
Music can’t be everything
Music can’t be everything
That’s why I see you clear as air
And it’s not from my creating
Music can’t be everything
All those songs that came before
All those songs that came before you
They were once awaiting
Music can’t be everything”

Strong and mature words said by a man consumed by his music as much as he is the one he loves. He’s realised he needs both to be whole.

He has created an album I would like to live in. There is so much to be learned, applied, tried and inspired by and felt on this record. I grew tired of none of the songs here. There were no moments of disappointment or underwhelming inauthenticity. For this I am thankful. This is an example of what music can actually do. This album is a testament, like the new testament, the 2nd coming of James and ends with a revelation that real music with real emotions is still being made, you just gotta wait for it. 

10/10 .

 

 

-∂eƒ

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