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Album Review: James Bay

Last updated on Jun 11, 2015

By Melanie Spina
Staff Writer

You may not know who James Bay is, but I am sure you’ve spent some time listening to his newest hit, “Let It Go” every time it comes on the radio. With his unique, husky, rugged, and gruff voice, the British singer-songwriter has been gaining popularity, with most of his upcoming shows in the UK and the U.S. being sold out.

Not only does Bay sing and write his own songs, but he is also a guitarist. He is inspired by artists like Bruce Springsteen and Miles Davis. On his official webpage, he states, “I’m trying to make songs that make people feel something and, if I’m lucky, even move them.”

That’s exactly what he does with his latest album “Chaos and the Calm,” which came out on March 23, consisting of 12 tracks filled with raw emotion. Bay opens up with this album and his talent shines right through it. “Hold Back The River” is the first single to come out of this record, and perhaps his most popular song. A nice mix of instruments, Bay’s unique voice, and the precisely composed lyrics make this song a standout.

His current single “Let It Go,” which was released along with the album, exposes the complications of a relationship that is going nowhere. He sings, “Trying to fit your hand inside of mine, when we know it just don’t fit.” The song allows listeners to understand what it’s like when a relationship isn’t going anywhere, and when it’s time to, as the title says, let it go.

But Bay’s hit singles aren’t his only good songs; in fact, the album is filled with amazing tracks from beginning to end. The album transitions from more of an upbeat indie rock sound that we hear in songs like “Craving and Collide” to slower songs featuring acoustic sounds, such as in “Incomplete and Move Together”.

Bay has a very similar sound to other British singer-songwriters like Ed Sheeran and Passenger, but still maintains his own individuality. Although Bay has toured with Hozier and has won a British excellence in music award, there are still people who are not aware of who he is. “I’ve never really heard of him,” said Doug Robinson, a senior Theatre major. “I do like that singer-songwriters are getting more attention though. I like when artists are able to be unique and original, but still be themselves at the same time.”

Ileana Lado, a junior Psychology major, on the other hand, knows exactly who Bay is, and she has been obsessing about him for the past few months. “I really love his sound,” she said. “My favorite song out of the album has to be ‘Need the Sun to Break’. It automatically puts me in such a good mood.”

Personally, as someone who likes to listen to music that is filled with emotions, I have to say this album is amazing. I am glad I came upon this new artist. Living in a music era where pop and hip hop are dominating the charts, it is very rare to find someone who is still making this kind of deep and emotional music. So don’t forget the name James Bay, because I am sure we will be hearing more from him in the future.

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