So when I wrote this album into my schedule, I thought I knew who James Blake was. I believed he was famous in the early 2000s with some singer-songwriter music. Turns out I was wrong, I guess he just has one of those names. I found out that I actually had no idea who this is so I’m curious as to what I’m going to hear. In doing some research, it seems he doesn’t have one set genre. Soul, R&B, and electronic are ascribed to James so I have no clue what is ahead.
- Assume Form- Now I know why sou, r&b, and electronic music are used in conjunction with him. This song truly incorporated all three of those genres, which I wasn’t expecting. This is a cool song. His voice is smooth yet powerful at the same time. The mixing was kind of weird as there were some verses that felt lower quality than others. I enjoyed the incorporation of slam poetry, and I hope that there is more of that throughout the album.
- Mile High- This song shouldn’t work, at least based on the theme of the mile high club being the entire purpose of the song. Yet, James and Travis Scott come together to create a good song that has a nice groove and isn’t explicit, which it easily could have been. James’ voice sounds beautiful and Travis sounds good as well. The auto-tune on Travis’ verses is there, but it isn’t overpowering. This is a decent song.
- Tell Them- Moses Sumney is featured on this song, who I hadn’t heard of before. He has a strange, but awesome, voice. This song is a monologue about a one night stand. The groove is great and I feel like this song is perfect for getting in the mood purely based on the instrumentals. The smooth vocals only add to that feeling.
- Into the Red- The meaning behind the song is cute. It’s about his partner, who I love, Jameela Jamil pouring everything she has emotionally and financially into their relationship. Vocally it is in falsetto almost the whole time which got old very quickly. The second verse is terribly autotuned. This is a middle of the road song for me.
- Barefoot In The Park- Let me start by saying Rosalia and James sound absolutely gorgeous together. I had never heard her voice before and I need to hear more. This song is so tender and lovely. I don’t love the song, but it is really cute. The one thing that annoyed me is the chipmunk outro. It is completely unnecessary and is overused.
- Can’t Believe The Way We Flow- As soon as the song started I knew I wasn’t going to like this song. The electronic elements weren’t done very well and were annoying. Once the vocals kicked in that portion went to the background. Love is the main theme throughout this album, which is nice especially because we have a specific person to latch on to unlike most love songs. I just really did not like the production. There was repetitive electronic beep that gave me a headache.
- Are You In Love?- This song could have been better, but there is a weird synthy piano that is grating. Luckily, it isn’t throughout the entire song, but it keeps making appearances and I can’t deal with it. It makes the meaning of being in love that this song tries to convey less meaningful. His vocals were great though so I guess I can’t be too mad.
- Where’s the Catch?- While I enjoy Andre 3000 in his verse, it felt like there were two different songs put into one. James’ verse in the beginning had some trap inspiration with the instrumentals and it fit into Andre’s verse. After that though there was a shift musically that didn’t make sense. Not a fan of this.
- I’ll Come Too- This song is a bit more relaxed than some of the ones before this. The vocal choices in the chorus are strange with random falsetto moments that didn’t add anything to the song. It’s a song about doing anything to be with someone and it doesn’t bring anything new. Again, the vocals generally are good other than the chorus weirdness.
- Power On- This song is about realizing he made a mistake in the relationship but understanding not to do it again and not fight about it. I like the message because it isn’t talked about much. The song is really repetitive and I feel like I don’t ever want to hear the words ‘on’ and ‘wrong’ ever again.
- Don’t Miss It- At first I was really into the song. Him talking about mental health is really important and I felt this song could pull that off. It isn’t until the first verse that this auto-tuned mess comes in. It takes away from the power that this song could have had. James has a great voice so auto-tuning it is completely unnecessary and takes away from every song that it has been blatantly featured on.
- Lullaby For My Insomniac- How this song was written is so cute. He wrote it to help someone, probably Jameela, get to sleep. I think this is effective as an outro because although it is slow with few lyrics, the instrumentals, and lack thereof, is so powerful. Strangely, I think this is my favorite song off of this album.
Overall, I think that Blake is extremely talented. His voice is incredible and he has some decent songs. Some of the songs felt disjointed and confused. The production wasn’t that good at points with vocal effects and autotune almost ruining the songs completely. I’m going to give this album a C+.