AOTY 2023
James Blake - Overgrown
Mar 26, 2023
James Blake's second studio album, Overgrown, shows the British electronic musician move away from his more experimental roots shown on his 2011 self-titled record, for more upfront and accessible takes on electronica based art pop and alternative R&B.

So, does James lose quality on leaving his super unique and minimal soundscapes he utilized on his self titled? Ultimately, I don't think so, as the things that make James such a good artist in the first place are still present in full, just undergone a bit of a metamorphosis. James Blake's vocals still remain quite beautiful, yet poignant with this clear despondency that just kinda comes naturally out of his voice, something I've always held onto with his music, how he can convey so much emotion with his vocal presence alone, regardless of what he is talking about. On Overgrown, this remains no different, as James harmonizes and croons these beautiful melodies throughout the entirety of the record, from the hums heard on Retrograde to the production he builds up and keeps himself entranced within on the title track of the record. Lyrically, it's pretty standard James Blake fare, usually cenetering around broken relationships that have hurt him, whether it be DLM's pleading tone towards both Blake and the lover moving away from one another to make themselves feel better, or Life Round Here's talk on a relationship in constant hatred and fighting, losing the meaning of the relationship in the first place. James somewhat cryptic lyrics on self-titled are a bit easier to understand here and understand for the average listener, but still pertains the same information Blake conveyed on self-titled.

As for production on this record, we still see plenty of the electronic production James provided on self-titled, but he moves much further away from his post-dubstep sound here, opting for more UK Garage, ambient pop, and quasi-hip hop beats here and there to provide Overgrown's own unique sound palette within the scope of James Blake's discography up to this point. It gives Overgrown it's own character through the production, and we see how James utilizes these sounds to create these very enjoyable tracks, whether it be tracks like Retrograde where Blake will hold vocals with dynamic synths, or stripped back piano ballads such as DLM and Our Love Comes Back, or tracks that dip their toes into hip-hop with the quasi-trap/cloud rap sound on Life Round Here or the cloud rap prod provided for RZA on Take a Fall For Me, which shows James talents in a more multi-faceted light than already previously showcased. I can understand why someone would prefer this sound over self-titled as it definitely provides more to the average listener than the stripped back instrumentals presented on self-titled.

And yeah, to wrap up, Overgrown is quite a beautiful and enjoyable follow up to Blake's masterful self-titled record, and provides it's own appeal to fans within the art pop/alternative R&B/electronic scene that would help provide Blake with a slightly more accessible sound without losing his appeal in the slightest. It's a pleasant evolution, and whilst I still prefer what Blake created on his first record, this one should not be undermined, as it's nearly as consistent as his previous record whilst providing a different atmosphere that is still fresh.


I Am Sold-88
Life Round Here-89
Take A Fall For Me-85

Digital Lion-77
To The Last-84
Our Love Comes Back-82

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More Reviews by TurbulenceSSB
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Apr 10, 2023
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