“I don’t want to be a star / but a stone on the shore / Long door, frame the wall / when everything’s overgrown.” That first hook from Overgrown’s title track, and album opener, makes it clear that James Blake is striving for some structure and consistency in his world. With the jet-set lifestyle of touring stardom wearing thin, his gaze is fixed on a single partner. This is bedroom music at its most intimate, with whispers of encouragement and beats that often sound more like rainfall than drum ‘n bass.
Unlike the haphazard collection of extremes that made up his eponymous debut, Blake creates his own musical consistency on Overgrown. The songs lull with a humid, sexual air, slowly morphing to a near-trance. Through it all, he repeats the same short, simple lyrical mantras, making slight alterations as he goes. Blake treats his own voice the way other IDM enthusiasts treat their ‘90’s R&B samples – the ghostly lover endlessly peeking through the groove to tug at your heartstrings.
Note: This album would have ranked higher on the list, had it not been for the egregiously out of touch rapping cameo from RZA on “Take a Fall for Me.”