Album Review: James Bay – Chaos And The Calm

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James Bay – the winner of this year’s Brits critics’ choice award and the BBC Sound Of 2015 title ahead of the release of his debut album; for many this was first time they had heard this name. His surprisingly quick rise to fame has been ruthlessly efficient, driven by a shrewd management team who have succeeded in casting this young 22 year old into such a prominent position that he is bound to receive some pretty sharp criticism that would dent many a confidence.

Bay possesses a rasping voice, that also draws comparison to both James Morrison and Paulo Nutini. His hit single from last year Hold Back the River received plenty of airplay and has also been covered in the Live Lounge – praise indeed – by Ella Henderson.

He is an accomplished guitarist, and the album Chaos And The Calm is full of solid guitar-led pop tunes. The opening track, Craving is a catchy number that belies the message within, the upbeat tempo clashing with the songs lyrics that depict a frustrated artist confined within the routines of his hometown.

Bay clearly knows how to write lyrics and tracks such as Scars, Move Together and Let It Go expose his vulnerability, youth and the woes of broken relationships.

When We Were On Fire introduces a pleasant funk vibe

Best Fake Smile shows a grittier edge and hints at a rock vibe that is perhaps being hidden.

James Bay has come along way since his busking days in Brighton – this experience undoubtedly provided the building bricks for honing his ability to connect with the public and he will undoubtedly have the festival scene well and truly in his hands this year.

Although critiqued as ‘ androgyne’ and ‘run of the mill’ this album will sell. His music may be seen to be middle of the road, but his delivery of soft rock belies tougher influences that are clearly lying just below the surface; the interest in this newcomer and the attention that he is generating may ignite his confidence to expose this deeper rockier side and challenge him to develop the talents that he clearly does possess.

This first album is catchy and heartwarming. Let’s not knock him back at the start of his career but see what develops as this could well be the start of something big!

Track Listing:

Craving

Hold back the river

Let It Go

If You Ever want to be in love

Best Fake Smile

When we were on Fire

Move Together

Scars

Collide

Get Out while you can

Need The Sun to break

Incomplete

Written By: Lindsy Stott

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