INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
The Music MARCH 26, 2013 - by Helen Lear
JAMES BLAKE: OVERGROWN
Following up his 2011 self-titled debut, Overgrown has buckets of James Blake's trademark ethereal vocals, simple beats and cleverly crafted samples, but there's a step up here to something a little more mainstream with some interesting new sounds.
The title track starts things off just as you would expect - soft and gentle with pared-back vocals that glide and sweep through heartfelt lyrics. Inspired by a chance meeting with his hero Joni Mitchell where they talked about the issues of longevity as an artist, he wrote this song on the way home: "I don't want to be a star / But a stone on the shore / A lone doorframe in the war / When it's over". Things pick up a bit with the chilled reggae-style beat of I Am Sold and Life Round Here takes things up a notch with a poppy R&B vibe that hints at Justin Timberlake. Rapper RZA joins in the fun on Take A Fall For Me, adding another layer to juxtapose Blake's beautiful vocals.
Retrograde takes things back down a notch as a sultry love song about realising feelings for a new girlfriend: "Ignore everybody else/We're alone now". Digital Lion boasts another collaboration, this time with legendary producer Brian Eno, showing that Blake is really moving into the ranks of music royalty. The Brit's voice takes a deeper tone in Voyeur, over a trance-laden backdrop filled with effects, samples and a good dose of cowbell. To The Last and Our Love Comes Back finish off the album beautifully, the latter with gentle piano and well chosen samples that don't overpower the essence of the song.
It's good to hear Blake hasn't been stifled by 'second album syndrome', but rather seems to have flourished under the pressure.