7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Mr Blake's Best,
This review is from: Enough Thunder (Audio CD)
I listened to James Blake's eponymous debut and liked it; liked it but
didn't love it. I remain unsure what exactly prevented me from connecting
more strongly with it than I was able. It was certainly distinctive in its own
way but lacked that difficult-to-pin-down emotional substance which makes
a good album really great. A tad too cerebral for its own good perhaps?
This six track release originally appeared as an adjunct to the 'Deluxe
Edition' but appears here standing on its own two feet to be judged alone.
Everything I failed to have grasped in its big brother I seem to have
found here. It is a wonderfully strange and affecting confection full of
elusive soul and emotion of a far more rough-and-ready kind. That's the
difference I think; the music stakes its territory in the listening world
without too much twiddling and teasing of its structural and melodic elements.
Mr Blake's distinctive voice, too, is allowed room to breathe. The cut-and-
paste electronic treatments are kept to a minimum which reveals more clearly
what a fine voice it truly is; a tad otherworldly but curiously affecting.
Even when the mechanical storm clouds gather, as they do on the haunting
'We Might Feel Unsound', Mr Blake's voice maintains a steady stance at the
heart of the maelstrom. Opening track 'Once We All Agree', too, finds him
in fine fettle weaving a fragile but evocative line in and around the sparse
chords of the brooding arrangement (his vocal kinship with Antony Hegarty is
a blessing rather than a hindrance). It's a brave man who'd take on Joni
Mitchell and live to tell the tale but he makes a stunningly brave job of
it with his rendition of 'A Case Of You' (and trust me I'd have been the
first in line to cheer-on his beheading if he'd fluffed it!) It's really wonderful.
The collaboration with Bon Iver on 'Fall Creek Boys Choir' yields some truly
marvellous strange moments among the complex harmonic twists and turns but it
is the simply beautiful 'Not Long Now' to which I must fully raise my crooked hat.
It is an extraordinary song; ephemeral and struggling for shape and form within
a mist of half-heard ghostly voices and dark shuddering beats. A composition
which comes and goes like a dream leaving curious traces in our waking memory.
Final track 'Enough Thunder' needs no more than a piano and Mr Blake's subdued
but gorgeously elegant vocal performance to convince us of his true worth.
This gem is far more than a second thought. It is Mr Blake's best work by a mile.