Where to begin describing Overgrown? I'm going to struggle, as I've not heard anything like James Blake before. As with his self-titled debut, it's simply unlike anything else. (Unless I've simply not listened to enough music.) Not sure who to compare him to or which genre to put him in. It's experimental, soulful, jarring, distorted, melodic and serves the unexpected - although, that said, this is exactly what I expected album number two to sound like.
Blake has a great vision for his musical landscapes. There's a sense it's all in his head and it's not something you can simply reproduce on sheet music - maybe a storyboard, instead? Maybe.
Opening and title track, Overgrown, is subtly beautiful and one of the least experimental tracks on the album, luring you in with an underplayed soulful voice, gradually building synths and percussion.
I Am Sold sees the experimental production values switched up a notch, but the musicality is just as rich, in particular the way Blake uses and plays with his remarkable voice.
By track three - Life Round Here - the synths do a little more of the quirky stuff and the landscape continues to build.
I'm not going to cover this track by track, but needless to say - in my view - there isn't a duff one here. I'm on my fifth listen and still finding surprises, still trying to hold onto the tunes and not quite managing it - a good thing, I know I'm not going to bore of this easily.
Parting track - Our Love Comes Back - brings the album full circle to something similar to the beginning - soulful voice, subtly building synths and underplayed sound effects.
If you particularly welcome the more experimental works of Radiohead, Elbow and Kate Bush, then this should appeal - I say should, because I really don't know. That's just the nearest I can get to a comparison; that's the nearest I can get to understanding just why I'm so drawn to this artist.
Final word on it all: astonishing.