James Blake


Not long after James Blake burst onto our collective consciousness, the debates about his electro-piano-crooning ways quickly began to take shape. In Blake’s world (namely, 2011 London), he was making dubstep, albeit his own moody, jazz-imbued version of it. Stateside, though, the labeling just didn’t compute. What did this warbly voiced kid with the slinky beats have to do with the floor-thumping dubstep we’d come to associate with frat houses and Top 40 deejays? It turns out, not much. On Overgrown, Blake’s follow-up to his lauded self-titled debut, he splits his time between the sexy, bass-driven grooves we’ve come to expect and a selection of songs that are, simply put, heavier hitting. (See “Take a Fall for Me” featuring RZA, or the trip-hop inspired “Voyeur.”) The dichotomy makes for an album of growth and groove united around Blake’s uniquely woozy, auto-tuned vocals. It’s beautiful, funky, and fully realized — no matter how you want to categorize it.

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