Album Review: James Blake – ‘Overgrown’

After all the tension with his record company’s tactics, James Blake has released an album that he doesn’t mind if everyone gets illegally and subsequently for free. However, James Blake has also release an album that you should want to pay for and give him the recognition he deserves, for Overgrown is a triumph.

So why is this album worth paying for? The title track “Overgrown” allows us to gain the idea that Blake has found a solid footing from his disjointed first album. The song has depth that is unfamiliar and gives us an inclination that there has been a step up when writing this album. Overgrown seems to be Blake showing off all of his talents; in his debut we got glimpses but it appears he has established himself amongst his fans and been given the freedom to do what he wants. It’s this freedom that can be heard in “I Am Sold”, it’s not a pop song but it’s a song that will be popular, its moody exterior is merely an addition to the interior of electronic beats and strong vocals.

James Blake has done what very few do, and created a sound that is quintessentially his own and it is rare that you hear a track that has so much identity to it. Overgrown can only be seen to have one comparable artist and even then the comparison is strained to just one or two songs. The sound often can be referred to SBTRKT and Sampha, one track being the third “Life Round Here”. The song is followed by “Take A Fall For Me” featuring RZA (of Wu-Tang Clan) which I won’t lie, took me a while to get into. However, perhaps I was tired, perhaps I lost focus, but this song is so  unbelievably clever that it has to be admired.

It’s unexpected in its addition, but seems to effortlessly flow in Overgrown, as well as this it just shows another edge to James Blake, you can’t help but feel the man is saying ‘Yes I really am this talented’. However we must remember something, talent needs to be supported, so there’s another reason to pay for this album.

So if you have paid for it by this point, after this wizardry you have to expect a fall, what else really? Instead we get a slap around the face and a new awakening as we get “Retrograde” followed by “DLM”. The single “Retrograde” we have been lucky enough to have had for a while now, and it’s a song that oozes class. It sits suitably half way through the album, the familiarity produces a smile, but it’s just a very well written piece of music.

It’s not just the tracks four and five that makes this album but the run of four-five-six as “DLM” is an exhibition of subtlety. We get teased with “I Am Sold” at the start, and the kickback beat that eases us into the album, but it has nothing on “DLM”.  This could be a single, this could be a collaboration with Anthony and the Johnsons this could also be/ is, my favourite song on the album. It’s slick and it just feels effortless, even though the complicated creation is anything but, it’s genuinely a beautiful song.

We have just been smacked with six songs that are worth paying for alone, but with the final four we just get more reminders why we should cough up the cash. The highlights of these come from “Digital Lion” and “Our Love Comes Back”. “Digital Lion” has the SBTRKT feel come back, and after the sweet sounding “DLM”, picks us back up and throws us into the climax of the CD. “Our Love Comes Back” is a great final song, it does a full circle on Overgrown and takes us over the excitable middle and into a dark finish. This man has real talent.

Yes, we have been given the free pass to download this album illegally due to a feud between Blake and his label, but Shakespeare has been saying for years that these close knit feuds get you no-where. We have also been given a real masterpiece of an album that is worth the money that comes off your card or out of your wallet/ purse.

Daniel Jones


…Daniel is listening to Oria“Ghosts”


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