Hearing news of James Blake's return was something we didn't take lightly. Holding our hand and guiding us through some of life's best and worst times, he has a very special space in our hearts. He is easily one of the most respected artists in our repertoire of artistry, taking his creativity and high regarded musicianship to great heights. To be an artist that withstands the test of time and an ever changing society requires a "signature" sound, and this he certainly possesses.
In case you've been on another planet, we'll remind you that James has released a brand new album (with almost no prior warning.) It's called The Colour In Anything -- a 17-track journey through love and desire. We had a full listen through, and here's our thoughts.
Holistically, the project paints imagery of a dreary, unrequited love. Whoever he's singing to is certainly hearing it all -- James wears his heart on his sleeve in the most artistic way possible. Rather than addressing his situations directly, he's mastered the art of allusions and metaphors (think "Limit To Your Love"-esque lyricism, "...like a map with no ocean").
The Colour In Anything was written alongside hip hop production extraordinaire Rick Rubin, despite zero rap features. Additionally, Frank Ocean makes a writing appearance on the record, specifically the track "Always," and ironically might be one of the stand outs on the whole project.
Things begin with single "Radio Silence," which also dropped to preview the album yesterday on Annie Mac. When speaking on the tune, James said,
"This was going to be the title track because there was almost a running joke that there'd been so much radio silence from me in my absence."
It certainly starts things on an impressive note, blending dainty keys and atmospheric vocals but incorporating a dance vibe. He never pushes the boundaries, keeps things in check, but hypnotizes nonetheless.
Moving on, James continues to speak of his intense emotion, singing "I know some men hurt more than me / But giving up is hard to do," and "Don't use the word 'forever' / We live too long to be so loved."
It is the sheer capability of capturing this emotion, the emotion so many can relate to, and pouring it out through the pen and onto paper, then performed on top of instrumentation that fits the mood uncannily. As mellow and almost intoxicating as the musicianship is, the lyrics will always spark something in your brain and make you think "wow, where did he even come up with that?"
There's a theme of rainy days and cool color-toned imagery, but let's not forget that James has the ability to produce quite the banger. Tunes like "Timeless" and "Points" add a very woozy electro element, reminding us that his production skills are just as tight as his lyricism.
And certainly, you'll get a "Wilhelm Scream" vibe as well, like the title track "The Colour In Anything." Get your tissue box out -- we have serious goosebumps and you will too.
James Blake is an absolute pioneer at his "genre," whatever that may be. The chord progressions he uses have this haunting ability to explore the depths of your heart and extract feels you might've hidden or misunderstood.
Your heart strings will be pulled on -- it was almost too easy for him. Play this with attentiveness or simply leave it as background noise, it's a beautiful, pleasant listen no matter the atmosphere.
We won't flood you with our opinion, we want you to come up with your own. We will, however, lend you this bit of insight -- The Colour In Anything is a majestic, conscious album that solidifies James Blake's irrefutable position as one of the most innovative and expressive artists to date. Take this album as a sacred gift.
You can hear it just about anywhere, but we encourage you to support him on iTunes HERE.