There is music out there that completely takes your breath away the moment you listen to it, which was the case when James Bay and his debut album, Chaos And The Calm found its way into my life. The impact of the album surpassed my tiny corner of the world and made it as far as garnering a Grammy nomination. With great success, comes great responsibility (is that how the saying goes?) which would make creating a Sophomore album a bit of a daunting task. Which may just be why James Bay decided to take a step back before creating new music. In a world where content is constantly being thrown at an audience, it feels out of the ordinary for an artist to take a break; I mean just ask Ed Sheeran how he felt about the countless write-ups that were done about him when he decided to take a year off.
Though a break may have been just what James Bay needed to reinvent himself; aside from cutting his hair (enough with the damn hair) and losing the fedora (if one more person mentions the damn fedora) his sound on Electric Light feels like a breath of eclectic air.
If you have an aversion to reading, I’ll save you the time: I’m slowly becoming obsessed with this album … but I really wish you’d keep reading.
“Wasted on Each Other” is a strong opener to the album, with James Bay’s raw vocals and the grit in the instrumentation it forces you to pay attention to the musical experience. “Pink Lemonade” follows with the kind of momentum that pushes you to stand up and have a dance party. “Just For Tonight” feels like it belongs in the middle of a romantic comedy while an adorable montage plays out (nobody take my idea, I’m writing it now). If you find yourself missing the sound that was in Chaos And The Calm then “I Found You” is the song for you; it’s romantic, it has a strong Gospel Choir behind it, while providing raw lyrics and showcasing the blues-influences that James Bay is known for.
I found you
I can’t believe I get to know you
Woah, I can’t believe I get to show you
I had no one ’til I found you
‘Til I found you
“If a Gospel Choir fills your heart with joy then “Slide” will become a quick favorite”, she says as she’s replays the song for the fifth time in a row. Though the electric, the fun, the upbeat and the distorted vocals are a refreshing take on James Bay’s sound I find myself gravitating more towards the songs that sound a bit more stripped down. Electric Light contains vocals that easily fluctuate from raspy to a beautiful Falsetto and that may just be James Bay’s superpower.
Admittedly I could have done without the “Intro” and the “Interlude” but the album as a whole is a wonderful musical journey. With the musical influences shining through in a beautiful way, the vocals getting extremely close to perfection and the eclectic musical sound; Electric Light shows James Bay’s growth as an artist while providing a strong discography to add to his repertoire.