Music : dubstep, electronic
300 East Main Street
Carrboro NC 27510
Monday, May 13, 2013
$25 Day of Show
It all started, says James Blake, with Joni Mitchell.
His favorite singer and songwriter came to see him at the Troubadour in Los Angeles two years ago and hung around afterwards to talk.
“She’s an oracle,” smiles James. “I learned a lot just from meeting her.”
What they talked about most was the idea of permanence—how to survive and thrive as an artist. On the flight back to London James wrote “Overgrown”, the gently immense song which lends its name to his highly anticipated second album. It’s about the things that last encapsulated in the lyric, “I don’t want to be a star but a stone on the shore, a lone doorframe in a war.”
“I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever written, and it’s the strongest message on the album,” says James. “Joni embodies the things I’m talking about. She was the spark that led to that song.”
Musically broad and emotionally deep, Overgrown as big as an advance on James’s eponymous 2011 debut. The growth is similar to the evolution that album evinced from the mercurial dubstep of his early EPs. It also reflects how much the 24-year-old Londoner’s life has changed in the past two years. His debut sold over 400,000 copies — quite a feat for a record so uncompromisingly introspective and experimental. It also picked up Mercury, BRIT and Ivor Novello nominations, sent him around the world on tour, and brought him into contact with a wide array of fans and collaborators that includes not only Mitchell but Jay-Z, Kanye West, Bon Iver, Björk, Drake, Brian Eno, and The RZA.
Most importantly, touring the debut led him to meet his girlfriend, whose presence (and sometimes absence: she lives in Los Angeles) gives Overgrown its considerable emotional weight.
“This past year has been intense,” says James. “In a time where otherwise you could feel the ground was moving too fast to remain normal or happy, she’s been there”
Their transatlantic relationship informs songs, such as the extraordinary electronic soul of the single “Retrograde”, which evoke both intimacy and distance. “The album is filled with the feeling of being in love for the first time and working out what that actually means,” he says. “All these things become part of your music.”
Early on in the process, his father, the musician James Litherland, told him he needed to concentrate on his songwriting because his two best-known songs were other people’s, notably Feist’s “Limit to Your Love” and Litherland’s own “Where to Turn”, rewritten as The Wilhelm Scream.
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