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- About James Blake -
James Blake is a 24 year old musician from London.
His career began with the release of a 12” single, Air and Lack Thereof back in 2009 (at the age of just 21), which was a hit with BBC Radio 1.
He went on to release 3 EPs in 2010 before his eponymous debut album was released in early 2011 charting at number 9.
Overgrown is the second album from James Blake. It was released on 8th April 2013 and after enjoying his debut I downloaded this album, curious to see if it would be as good as the first.
Overgrown reached number 8 in the albums chart.
James Blake is a very unique musician and he has a very different style to every other artist I have listened to.
I always find it difficult to categorise music, but I think most people would struggle to compare James Blake to another artist.
His songs tend to be slow with quite a sad sound to them.
A lot of his songs are played on the piano, which is a sound that I love, but he often combines this with a soft and gentle electronic sound, which is refreshing and different.
His music is usually slow paced and has a chilled out feel to it.
His vocals are fantastic. His voice is beautiful. He is a very talented artist and he has been nominated for numerous awards.
- Tracklisting and My Thoughts -
Overgrown is a soft gentle piano track. It has a sad feel to it. Blake's vocals are quite high pitched contrasting with the low notes played on the piano. I really like this song.
2) I Am Sold
This track is slow paced like the others on the album, but with a touch of urgency to it. The piano is gentle and hides behind Blake's vocals. This track also has an electronic sound to it, but it is slow and subtle, not what you'd expect from a typical electronic track.
3) Life Round Here
This is fast paced with a nice electronic feel to it. The vocals are echoing and layered. Although this is a quicker paced track it still has a chilled out feel.
4) Take A Fall For Me
This is one of my favourite tracks on the album. The soft electronic sound is accompanied by Blake's high pitched vocals and there is also an American voice on the track. I think this track really stands out.
Retrograde has a sad feel to it. It showcases Blake's vocals. It is a slow track, but it has a gentle electronic sound. I really like this track. It is another of my favourites and I really like the music video for this song as well.
DLM is more of a typical piano and vocals combination. This track really showcases Blake's vocals.
7) Digital Lion
This is another of my favourites. Lots of soft electronic sounds combined with Blake's high pitched vocals. This is a track that has a really chilled out feel to it.
This is a slow track with quiet vocals and soft slow music. The vocals have quite a muffled sound, but in a good way.
9) To The Last
To The Last is a slow piano and synthesized track with high pitched vocals from Blake. This is another track with a really chilled out, relaxed feel.
10) Our Love Comes Back
Our Love Comes Back is a lovely slow piano track, again offering high pitched vocals with subtle electronic sounds.
- Conclusion -
I only had to listen to this album once to realise it was going to be as good as his debut.
Each track has been perfected combining the music, the electronic sound and the expressive vocals.
The lyrics are meaningful, sometimes a bit cryptic, but they can be quite repetitive and some songs only have a few lines that are different from each other as the same lines are repeated so often.
I am pleased that I downloaded this album. It is quite different to other musicians I like to listen to, but only because there are no other artists releasing music like this.
I am finding myself choosing to listen to this album quite a lot at the minute as it is a nice change to listen to something so chilled out and relaxing. It is music to fall asleep to!
I would definitely recommend this album or at least give one of Blake’s songs a listen. I think it would appeal to most people, if given the chance.
You can currently view the Retrograde music video in full at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6p6PcFFUm5I
I first saw James Blake at Glastonbury and I bought his self titled album James Blake. His style is incomparable, it's intense and with high pitched vocals and thunderous backing drums. I cannot think of a band or artist to compare him to; although if you like the music of Elbow, Depeche Mode or Joni Mitchell than you may find something in James Blake that you like. In fact, Blake states that Joni Mitchell was one of his inspirations. Her soulfulness is echoed in some of his songs and indeed he even went on to cover "A Case of you," one of Mitchell's best tracks from her album Blue.
His first album was breathtaking and I fell in love with his handsome man that has a voice like nectar. When I heard him at Glastonbury, he was just awesome and had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand; he is enchanting. A fickle music lover James Blake was put on the back burn of my mind for a couple of years until I heard Retrograde, track 5 off the new album and it stopped me in my tracks. I thought, I know that voice and indeed the DJ informed me that this was a release from Blake's upcoming album. I downloaded the track and then about a week ago I downloaded the full album as an MP3. Despite already owning one song, it was still cheaper to download the full album.
This is a love or hate album as the spectrum of tracks are similar, his voice and style are unique and recognisable at the first note. The first track I wanted to play was I Am Sold and this did not disappoint, it is very experimental and progressive but it has a quality that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stick up. This uses a lot of synthesiser and in places it seems quite distorted but this is purposeful. The whole album as a delicious rawness and it takes you on a musical journey. By far the best song on the album is Retrograde. "You're on your own in a world you've grown, Few more years to go, Don't let the hurdle fall, So be the girl you loved." What I like best about the song is his soulfulness.
His voice is angelic and so powerful. There is a steady beat behind this song and with the gentle murmurings behind his voice; it sounds religious and intense. The intensity is a quality I like in my music as it is good to get lost in someone else's emotions from time to time. Blake uses his voice like an instrument and in Life Round Here he uses his voice in such a different way; reaching really high notes and then fading it back in that it gives an extra dimension to his sound. Blake uses a vocoder to play with his voice, shifting the pitch at such a pace. His voice sounds so fragile in places but this is down to his own technique and style rather than a machine.
==The weak link==
I love all the songs on this album but there is one song I have to skip and that is Take a fall for me" You could describe is as experimental, raw and edgy but I just do not like the rap. It sounds like he is trying too hard and too eager to be different. His voice and style works on its own you don't need to throw a rap mishmash about hardship in there. I always give this song a miss, even after trying to love it I just cannot. There is a couple on here that sound very Joni Mitchell with DLM being one. As he hits certain notes you could even swear it was her! DLM is deep, soulful and full of little sound effects that gives the song power to stop you in your tracks.
Without pulling each track a part in detail, I will sum by saying that the rest of the album follows this theme and does not disappoint. The last track is worthy of a mention as it is so beautiful and is probably the next best to renograde. This has lovely piano instrumentation with Blake's voice wrapped around it like a silk bow. The track is very beautiful and very soulful.
The album has a rawness that is hard to find these days. Blake is a strong male vocalist with his strengths lying in his beautiful angelic voice. He uses his voice, stretches it and pulls it to give the listener more and more. His progressive style is unmatched and although there are hints of other artists, his style is very much his own.
==Backdrop for summer==
This is a superb album and offers the perfect backdrop of the summer. I can imagine having a beer and listening to this album sat out on the terrace. I love music that is different and this album is one that you want to play over and over; you will not get bored. Each song carries its own story and although some of the lyrics are a little over the top; his poetic style is enchanting and his lyrics beautiful. I find that there is a little too much repetition in some of the songs, but on the whole both lyrics and voice go well with each other. Each track is a masterpiece in its own right, with the exception of Take a Fall for me and accolade should be given. Blake is one of those people that you have to see liver and once you see him perform you want a little bit more.
This album is available for £10.99 for CD release with artwork and for £7 you can have the MP3 version.
Tracklist: 1. Overgrown / 2. I Am Sold / 3. Life Round Here / 4. Take A Fall For Me [feat. RZA] / 5. Retrograde / 6. DLM / 7. Digital Lion / 8. Voyeur / 9. To The Last / 10. Our Love Comes Back