James Blake : Overgrown
James Blake has been renowned for his simple, yet heart-wrenching music. The development of his second studio album Overgrown sees Blake creating stronger narratives and structure throughout all ten tracks. He places more importance on a linear progression with his vocals on the album, than with his previous work on his self-titled debut. The dewy, electronic gospel-folk laden songs are perfectly minimal, allowing the listener to catch the powerfully ardent crescendos in the vein. His vocal range is almost non-existent, and instead he relies on subtle tremors and wavers of the voice to evoke pathos and nostalgia. While there are a few upbeat tracks on Overgrown, this album has a beautifully mournful tone.
The highlight track is the overwhelming Retrograde. Designing the song around subtle R &B influences, he moulds layers of eerie piano notes and cascading reverberating synths to create a magnetic climax. It wields together musical elements so powerful that it took me three listens to focus on the lyrics. Another standout track is Take A Fall For Me, featuring an unlikely appearance by Wu Tang’s RZA. Blake incorporates elements of hip hop with a stronger down beat, heavier bass and choppy haunting vocal samples. I Am Sold and Overgrown are similarly melancholic and beautiful.
He is brave to pay no mind to traditional musical structures for his second studio album and he is smart to create music you feel. This is my favorite album of the year.
BY TAMARA VOGL
Best Track: Retrograde
If You Like These, You’ll Like This: BRIAN ENO, BON IVER
In A Word: Overwhelming