It’s been a lengthly wait, but today Hertfordshire born singer-songwriter James Bay’s debut album Chaos and the Calm finally hit shelves. After taking home The Brits Critics Choice Award this year – won by the likes of Adele and Sam Smith in previous years – the 24 year old certainly had a lot to live up to…
James Bay was first brought to my attention when he opened for Jessie J at 2014’s iTunes Festival in September. Asides from his long locks, high cheekbones and generally pleasing aesthetic, I was actually impressed with his musical talent, and he gained a fan in me as I downloaded all of his EP’s quicker than you could say ‘Hold Back The River‘.
Mixing acoustic slow building ballads and bouncy guitar beats, Chaos and the Calm covers just about everything you’d expect an artist like Bay to cover. With heartbreak plastered over ‘Scars’, and the big choir-accompanied chorus’ in ‘When We Were On Fire’, you could easily say it’s one of those “albums for anyone”. The only problem is, it’s also an album that will be easily overlooked as it’s nothing we haven’t heard before – quite literally.
Having 4 EP’s under his belt before the album release, Bay has transferred a handful of these songs onto the album. They’re good songs – good, well-written, strong songs that are great for first time James Bay listeners. Alas, if you’re anything like me and have had all of the EP’s on repeat for the last 6 months, you’re not really experiencing anything new. Out of the 15 tracks on the album, a massive 8 of them are lifted from EP’s, meaning we’re getting less new material than old. A little disappointing for a Brit winner, especially when we’ve waited so long for it’s release.
On the plus side, the new material we do get is great, favouring the simplicity of ‘Incomplete’ and the more upbeat sounds in ‘Collide’. Alongside the release of the album today, James also premiered the official video for ‘Let It Go’ (above), a definite stand out and favourite on Chaos and the Calm.
Review by Jayde Engledew