James Blake - The Colour In Anything
by Srinandini Mukherjee
Imagine Adele-esque lyrics, combined with a powerful male voice and experimental electronic music, and you have James Blake. And if that description alone doesn’t sound intriguing enough to you, Blake’s latest album might just change your mind. After seven years in the music industry, The Colour In Anything brings out the best of the English singer-songwriter’s unique style.
Blake’s biggest asset is, without a doubt, his voice. His wonderful falsetto is just as enticing as his more frequently heard lower, deep tone. Tracks such as Love Me Any Way, and f.o.r.e.v.e.r successfully highlight just how wide his vocal range is, and how well his voice is suited to the mournful, lost-love kind of songs he sings. On that point, it is unexpected to think of electronic dance music working with themes of loss and pain, which dominate nearly all of Blake’s music. However, he manages to effortlessly combine the two in a way which brings out his sorrow more effectively - the minor scales and distorted beats used in most of the tracks seem to be a parallel to the disillusion Blake feels.
The Colour In Anything has a lot of high points. However, in a seventeen-track album, there are bound to be some flaws. For me, the main issue was the number itself. A large number of songs, including the titular track, just blend into one another due to their similar styles and lyrics. I would complain about Blake being exclusive only to pessimistic themes, but it definitely seems to showcase his strengths, much like certain other artists. So, I’d rather say that perhaps this content should have been spread out over two albums. Certain tracks don’t shine as powerfully as the others - Put That Away and Talk To Me, were allegedly written by Blake when he was facing a bit of a writer’s block. Unfortunately, this is really evident in the song, and it comes across as bland and unimpressive.
Blake’s electronic music compositions are often described as “experimental”, and this is clearly a hit-and-miss kind of style. Radio Silence starts off the album strong, showcasing just how cohesively electronic music can convey Blake’s melancholy lyrics. Yet, other tracks such as I Hope My Life and Choose Me seem to overuse the electronic element, which ruins the sentiment and on occasion, causes the track to sound too distorted to be enjoyable. That being said, it was pleasing to see Blake break away from his usual style in a few tracks on the album, creating a few stand-out songs. The final track, Meet You In The Maze, finishes the album on a strong note due to this. The soft, a cappella track is a far cry from the electronic dance beats, but brings out the best of Blake’s voice, and highlights his versatility as an artist.
The Colour In Anything definitely suggests that James Blake is on the right track, and is capable of bringing something refreshing to the current music scene. I look forward to hearing his future music in the years to come.