Musically broad and emotionally deep, James Blake's second album ‘Overgrown’ is as big as an advance on his eponymous 2011 debut as that album was on the mercurial dubstep of his early EPs. His debut sold over 400,000 copies - quite something for a record so uncompromisingly introspective and experimental. It also picked up Mercury, Brit and Ivor Novello nominations, sent him around the world on tour, and brought him into contact with a wide array of fans and collaborators including Joni Mitchell, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Bon Iver, Björk, Drake, Brian Eno and the RZA.
Most importantly, touring the debut led him to meet his girlfriend, whose presence gives ‘Overgrown’ its considerable emotional weight. “Instinctively I’ve gravitated towards wanting to make music that people will really remember and love,” he says. “It’s an emotional impact I’m looking for.” His singing, heavily treated on his earlier work, also privileges clarity and immediacy like never before.
The walls have certainly come down on ‘Overgrown’. From the jet-lagged hip hop of ‘Take a Fall For Me’ to a hall-of-mirrors take on a late 90s R&B jam on ‘Life Round Here’; from the dizzying house music of ‘Voyeur’ to the sensual lullaby of closing track ‘Our Love Comes Back’, James never has the same idea twice.
James’s newfound confidence and thirst for change has produced a second album that takes him to a new level of craft and feeling that his previous work only hinted at. “These last two years have really formed me,” says James. “I have huge ambitions."