Album review: James Blake – The Colour In Anything

James Blake - The Colour of Anything

James Blake - The Colour of Anything - Credit: Archant

Blake delves deep into his psyche to pull off his biggest and best album yet.

Now firmly established as one of the UK’s top-shelf talents, electro-melancholic maestro James Blake has been busy of late.

Not only has the Grammy and Brit-nominated artist been putting together his third full-length album - a bit of a beast, weighing in at 17 tracks - but he lent his vocals, songwriting and production nous to Queen Bey herself for her acidic, world-dominating Lemonade.

Already established as part electro wunderkind du jour, part intimate balladeer, Blake uses The Colour In Anything to refine both roles, concocting nuanced and intricate songs which engage with an ethereal mix of piano and synths.

The pained opener Radio Silence finds Blake crying out “I don’t know how you feel” over this piano-and-beats combo, the space in between as eloquent as the sounds themselves.

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Lyrically, the record delves into the psychological hinterland of relationship breakdown, dislocation, remorse and the questioning search for meaning, with samples and electro schisms dropped in with as much careful consideration of their emotive effect as the aching, warmer piano motifs.

These lyrics tie the record together and prove his strongest, sharpest and most engaging yet - boasting a humanistic colour and texture.

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It’s good news on the musical front, too. He’s opened himself up to collaboration.

Leftfield folk icon Bon Iver’s vocals feature obliquely on the stunning I Need A Forest Fire.

Further rummages in the talent bag brought out Frank Ocean, who was recruited as a co-writer, the legendary Rick Rubin, who produces several songs and characteristically sharpens Blake’s focus, and children’s illustrator Quentin Blake, who’s decided to stick a naked woman in a tree on the cover;

I’ll never see James And The Giant Peach in the same way again.

Undoubtedly Blake’s best work yet (that’s James, not Quentin).

Rating: 4/5 stars

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