James Bay’s newest album, Chaos and the Calm is currently streaming on iTunes radio, and it is all I’ve been listening to today. Just about a week ago, I didn’t even know who James Bay was, and now, I’ve listened to every song the British singer-songwriter has released and have watched every live performance I could find on YouTube. If I had to review Chaos and the Calm using only one word, the word would be: poetic. For a moment, lets forget about the chilling vocals and the beautiful musicality of the album (we’ll get to that later). For just this moment, let’s focus on the honest and confession-like lyrics that were written for the sake of this album.
In “Let It Go,” James Bay describes the painful reality one goes through when you realize you must walk away from a situation, “I used to recognize myself/It’s funny how reflections change/When we’re becoming something else/I think it’s time to walk away.” In “Best Fake Smile,” he creates a mini-anthem for anyone that’s doing something they don’t enjoy; he sings, “No, you don’t have to wear your best fake smile/Don’t have to stand there and burn inside.”
There is no doubt in my mind that James Bay meticulously put this album together. Each song carries a little bit of him in it, and that becomes extremely evident when listening to the song “Scars.” Bay previously stated that “Scars” took two years to complete, and that it is about a time in his life when his girlfriend had to move away from him and only when she came back was the song finally completed. James Bay’s music is definitely influenced by classic rock, and that sound can be found in songs like, “When We Were on Fire,” “Get Out While You Can” and “Collide.”
The brilliance of this album is that the sentimental, softer songs don’t seem out of place in the middle of songs that carry a faster beat and a heavier instrumental background. His years of singing at open mic nights and busking in Brighton definitely paid off. Maybe it was those nerve-wracking experiences that caused Bay to be able to connect with the audience in such a perfect way. His voice carries the album in an effortless matter, and no matter what the song is about, he makes sure you feel every single lyric.
So, I’d like to officially go on record: this is it. We found him, guys, the next big thing is here and his name is James Bay. He is selling out shows left and right, and his journey is just beginning. After listening to Chaos and the Calm about seven times, I can proudly and honestly say James Bay definitely is living up to the hype. So go, listen, and you can thank me later.