Jose James' first album, "The Dreamer", was quite a jazzy affair, being mainly filled with mid-tempo and slower jazz tunes with a piano being his acccompaniment of choice. This release, "Blackmagic", is a much more experimental album, where some of the tracks blend jazz with hip-hop, funk, soul and R&B. This brings a continuity to the album, where it does have interesting additional sounds and influences.
"Code", "Lay You Down" and "Made For Love" are examples of this where he lends his seductive baritone voice to funky neo soul tracks, with hip-hop style beats. They are very good, reminding me of work by Amel Larrieux or Jill Scott. "Touch", "Save Your Love For Me" and "The Greater Good" are examples of more straight forward funky jazz tunes and are very soothing to listen to. "Promise" is pretty much an R&B tune which could have been released by Donell Jones or Anthony Hamilton. "Warrior" has a distinctive trip-hop feel and could fit well on a Massive Attack CD - the piano solo fits really well with the cool beats. The duet with Jordana De Lovely, "Love Conversation", and "Beauty" are very mellow slow jams. The final two tracks "No Tellin'" and "This Is The Day" are the only piano led jazz ballads on this release and finish the album off with class.
"Blackmagic" is therefore a pretty solid second effort by Jose James. It does not have any particular highlights, just a good variation of styles and influences. A good album to listen to on a rainy day.