The Colour in Anything. James Blake


After recording several songs in his bedroom, James Blake started his career in 2009 with the EP “Air & Lack” which later became in “Hemlock”. This was a little start of a meteoric career which will be followed by his famous and homonym album “James Blake” and later by “Overgrown”, which leads to win the famous Mercury Prize. 

After this important prize, the expectative were higher, cause there were announced collaborations with great artist as Kanye West (declared fan of James Blake), Chance the Rapper, Frank Ocean, among others. Even, Blake declared he moved to US to live with Chance the Rapper to live together and work there. But something happen then. Maybe a personal thing, maybe he decided change his mind. And this was reflected in all. 

Blake started to act different in his concerts, even playing a song, when the fans don’t let him play a song he shown his middle finger, under the surprise of all. Maybe then started the breaking between the public and Blake. 

Then, he made a collaboration with Beyoncé and the song was released in the famous “Lemonade”, one of the most notorious releases of this year, but the Blake song was almost imperceptible, is the shortest in the album (only 1:19) and the Beyonce’ s voice appear only few seconds, even seems more a collaboration of Beyonce in a Blake’s album. James Blake himself said that he “was given a set of lyrics by Beyoncé’s camp when he was invited to the studio to start brainstorming what would become the Lemonade track “Forward.” He ignored the lyrics, replacing them with his own: 

It ended up just being me and an engineer in a room. Him playing me something that just sounded—like the start of something—and I wrote something that was completely against the brief… I’ve never sung anybody else’s lyrics. So I just assumed that’s not I was going to be doing. So I got my phone out and sang some of my own lyrics that were about something else and about somebody else. But it fit somehow into the song and it fit into the album, and I’m just honored that they used it.” (You can check it out the complete article in this link: ). 

Later, problems with Drake (Blake will say “I only sent it as a collaborative idea, not to be sampled on a record”. Also, problems with Chance The Rapper (after moving to live together in what Chance described as “a big-ass rapper mansion” called “the Koi Kastle that he and Blake acquired after Acid Rap exploded. Blake eventually skipped out on the lease and Chance was left all by his lonesome in the Koi Kastle with a pool, a movie theater, a lot of Xanax, and a basketball court”. Later Blake will say “We wanted to work together on something, so Chance invited me to the house he said he’d rented for him and his friends….I turned up and he told me my name was on the lease, which was creepy because I’d never signed anything”. (You can check it out the complete story in this link: )

The expectative were higher but some of the collaborators wasn’t in the album. Other great collaborators were, as Frank Ocean and Bon Iver, and the songs has been recorded. And the expectative it was more higher and higher. Then an image appear in London, a big poster, then other, and will be disclosed it was the artwork of the new Blake’s album, by Sir Quentin Blake (well known for his illustrations for books written by Roald Dahl). 

And suddenly, Blake announced May 5 his album will be released that day at midnight. A suddenly announce, without presentation event, without the possibility that the fans can be excited: just a laconic announce. And other problem: the release of the album was May 5, but the LP version was released on September 2, without a special edition. 

And then, “The Colour in Anything” was received without the celebration that months earlier was received “In Colour” by Jamie xx. While “In Colour” was celebrated by all the reviews and charts, “The Colour in Anything” was received with mixed feelings, mostly the reviews are good, but in the album wasn’t consider one of the most relevant of this year nor consider for this edition of the Mercury Prize. 

Is innovative this last album of James Blake? First of all, is an album very longer to listen (17 songs, near 80 minutes). There are interesting songs, as “Radio Silence” and “I Hope my Life (1-800 Mix)” where the contrast of sounds are nice. Even, “Radio Silence”, before the release of “The Colour in Anything”, was the previous he played in the concerts showing the kind of music that the public was expected by Blake. 

But the tone of the other songs is not so different and even are less interesting than the first albums. In “Points” there are abuse of the synths, even to the point of want to stop the song. And in the case of the lyrics, according to the Pitchfork’s review (which evaluate the album in 8.2) note that “ironically Blake’s own grasp of lyric writing is still immature. He is never clever, catchy, or subtle. If anything he can even be comically melodramatic (“Where is my beautiful life?”) or annoyingly whiny (“I can’t believe that you don’t want to see me”). It makes it so that you wish he would just hum and slur his words into indistinct hunks of emotion”. (You can check the Pitchfork review in this link: )

Finally, for us there are a two James Blake. The first one, the Blake innovative, the guy who put the Dubstep to another level (even some journalists identify him with something called Pos-Dubstep) and the second James Blake, a great musician but also a person who wants to forget his past (deleted all his pics from Instagram and is impossible get his previous albums in his site, cause they are not available) and, maybe is condemn to repeat it. Maybe, he must concentrate again in his own work, which is great, and stop fighting again other musicians and with the public, cause there are versions of him in concerts saying “I want it to be over” so many times or showing the middle finger. 


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