James Blake – The Colour In Anything
Release Date: 06/05/2016
Label: Polydor, 1-800 Dinosaur
Producers: James Blake, Rick Rubin
Singles: Modern Soul, Timeless
It seems like an eternity since we last heard some new material from James Blake, three years in fact since 2013’s Mercury Prize-winning Retrograde. However, despite this relapse in solo material, Blake has been working with some of the industry’s biggest names such as Kanye West, Beyonce, Frank Ocean and more recently- Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon. And with that aforementioned Mercury Prize already under his belt, as well as another nomination for his debut, not to mention nominations at both the GRAMMYs and The BRIT Awards, James Blake is finally ready to release his third studio album- The Colour In Anything.
The Colour In Anything is a mournful journey of sounds spanning the post-dubstep genre Blake has helped define, to R&B, synth-pop, electronica and hip-hop. This time round the project doesn’t entirely beam the sombre dread of Retrogade, it’s often a more hopeful and optimistic sound, something which is difficult to comprehend when listening to such initially-cold music.
Blake’s attention to detail and precisive approach to production is unparalleled. You could listen to any track on the album a hundred times, and each listen would unearth an extra layer to his songwriting. The criss-crossing of vocals meeting production is impossible to follow, with Blake’s eerie cries pulsating and then reclusing behind the tip-tapping of an 808, or a consuming and hard-hitting wob of electronica. While the production on The Colour In Anything is cearly laboured over, I found myself most hypnotised with the absence of musical accompaniment. Meet You In The Maze for example, leaves Blake’s vocal arrangement particularly vulnerable yet consuming, drawing more direct inspirations from the aforementioned Bon Iver, who also makes a guest appearance on I Need A Forest Fire.
James Blake is an incredibly talented musician, and The Colour In Anything could be his strongest project yet. I dipped in and out of Blake’s prior LPs, enjoying but with a mind wandering in a few instances. However, with his third album, it feels a much more complete, more polished, and altogether sound piece of music. Each listen is more rewarding than the last, with new discoveries and different perspectives unearthed by the end of every track. An engrossing album from an intoxicating musician.
Verdict – WWWW