Record Label: Polydor
James Blake expands his sound into structured, textured loveliness on album No.2
For a while, the direction which James Blake would take following his self- titled debut album in 2011 seemed to, in the minds of many, jeopardize the promise that record had given him. His follow up EP, "Enough Thunder" was a stricken, blubby set of songs that had many critics worrying that he would become "Experimental Electronica"'s Usher.
Thankfully though, "Overgrown" is in some ways everything critics and fans alike could have hoped for. Any blubber is not dramatized and in stark reminiscence of his pre- debut work, more space is given to the music itself to unfurl into often beautiful expanses. These are more succulent, full- grown compositions than the sparse, skeletal shapes of his debut, the enveloping, soft string arrangements of the title track proving this from the word go. More evidence can be found on "Voyeur," all cowbells and a driving, distant house beat accompanied by kaleidoscopic bleeps and drones; it's the closest Blake has ever got to a club banger.
"I Am Sold" is Weeknd- tinted R'n'B comprising of distant funk shrouded in layers of cymbal hiss. Best of all though are the collaborations. "Take A Fall For Me" sees Wu- Tang Clan's production figurehead the RZA spout a sensitive, strangely prophetic plea of heartache. "Digital Lion", a collaboration with Brian Eno is all dark, shuddering bass and ominous, hypnotic vocal samples.
For the time being, Blake seems to have managed the balance between lyrical sensitivity and imperative song craft rather well. On "Overgrown" the tunes are given enough room to develop and add layers without being weighed down by "woe is me" vocal proposition. As I said, ALMOST everything you could hope for.
Key Tracks: Digital Lion (feat. Brian Eno), Take A Fall For Me (feat. the RZA), Our Love Comes Back
For fans of: The Weeknd, Bon Iver