10 Jun 2016

James Blake / The Colour In Anything (album review)

The Colour in Anything is a refreshing return to the lucid tones of his debut album, departing from the harsher narrative style of its 2013 Mercury Prize-winning predecessor Overgrown.
As a self-professed JB (no, not Bieber) total fan boy, it’s been a struggle to review this album with a level head but this long-awaited and, among fans of Blake, hotly anticipated offering does not fail to impress. Unapologetically reminiscent of the London-based singer/songwriter/producer’s 2011 self-titled album, The Colour In Anything provides a beautifully heart breaking window into Blake’s soul. Announced to be “seventy percent done” in November 2014 and to be “released in about 5 months” it’s been a long and painful wait, with an almost complete lack of information following this until its release. Perhaps the sudden unannounced release of the album is a play on the original name of the album Radio Silence”, which is the name of the albums opener.

It features contributions from Frank Ocean and Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, making TCIA is a gleaming example of Blake’s signature mellow electronic tones delightfully interspersed with beautiful vocal interludes on tracks such as f.o.r.e.v.e.r.

Personal favourites include My Willing Heart, featuring Frank Ocean, which employs a spoken intro before dropping into the main beat of the song. Blake has used this format for several songs on TCIA, but he does it so cleverly, in a way as to change it up slightly each time, to keep the album as a whole from feeling formulaic or repetitive. Other favourites include the poignant and lamenting Love Me In Whatever Way, and Put That Away and Talk to Me which depicts the frustrations of loving in a modern world whilst many people are glued to smartphones and computer screens.

Despite a three year musical absence, Blake has once again proved that good things come to those who wait. The Colour in Anything is a sonic voyage, which brings periods of both sombre reflection and then magnificently uplifts with otherworldly crescendos. The wait has been painful but the reward is most definitely worth it.


Words: Chris Minihan