Everything You Need To Know About James Blake's New Album
If you spent all day yesterday crying tears of joy in anticipation of James Blake‘s new album, only to spend your entire night riding a euphoric wave of beautiful vocals while still crying, don’t worry. We’re fans of his too. Just like falling in love, Blake dropped his third album, The Colour in Anything, into our hearts slowly and then all at once. It’s been five years since he released his self-titled debut album and three years since Overgrown weaved its way into our eardrums. Blake overtook our souls with his ethereal vocals on tracks like “Retrograde” and “Take A Fall for Me,” and then disappeared from the radar like a certain other musician whose name rhymes with Drank Potion. Now, Blake has finally reentered our lives with a grace and elegance fit for his soulful electronic tracks, and with a level of vigor that’s left us on the ground in the fetal position reaching for our LifeAlert.
If we’d known on Monday that, by the end of the week, we’d be fighting to keep our heads above the sea of emotions that the album has triggered in all of us, we would’ve packed our water wings. So to help you wade through this emotional, heart-wrenching, dreamy soundscape, here are the five essential facts you need to know about Blake’s latest masterpiece.
The Album Release Was Delayed to Give Lemonade Time to Settle
Even Blake wasn’t immune to the metric ton of hype that Beyoncé’s pitcher of Lemonade dropped on the world. He had originally planned to release his album on April 29th, but ended up pushing back the release date to give Queen Bey the space and attention she deserves. And it’s a good thing he did; Blake’s cameo on Beyoncé’s album in “Forward” braced everyone for his latest album. According to The Guardian, Blue Ivy loves “Forward” so much, she belted “Forward!” every time Blake sang the hook on the song when her and Beyoncé first went to Blake’s studio. “That’s how you know it’s catchy,” Beyoncé told Blake. Well Blue, if you thought that was catchy, just wait ’til you get a load of The Colour in Anything.
Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon Reunited with Blake for The First Time in Five Years
Half a decade after Vernon and Blake came together in beautiful harmony in 2011’s “Fall Creek Boy’s Choir,” we were finally granted another ode by these two musical masterminds: “I Need A Forest Fire.” Who knew a song wishing for a natural disaster could be so pretty? They did. And this wasn’t the only track Vernon contributed to either; he wrote and co-produced the closing track, “Meet You In The Maze,” and helped with production on “Two Men Down.” We’ll be ready and waiting for their inevitable duet album of lullabies.
He Enlisted the Help of Legendary Producer Rick Rubin
Underneath Rubin’s bushy beard lies a smile to match the twinkle he gets in his eye when talking about Blake. Before the duo got together in Rubin’s Shangri-La Studios, the famed producer was spotted last year annotating “Retrograde” on the website Genius (formerly Rap Genius). Rubin wrote, “I feel like he’s really influenced everybody a lot. I know in the artist community everybody loves Blake. James Blake is spectacular, I love him all the time.” We do too, Rubin. All the time.
Seeing that Rick Rubin helped produce said new James Blake album got me like… pic.twitter.com/NyzTn5r9BB
— Dylan Finley (@d_finnmusic) May 6, 2016
The Artwork Was Painted by Roald Dahl’s Illustrator Sir Quentin Blake
Unfortunately, the Blakes (Sir Quentin and James) are not related by blood, but they do share a common ground in caressing our senses. One Blake soothes us with his vocals while the other, Sir Blake, employed his artistic skill that brought Roald Dahl’s celebrated books to life to craft visually pleasing landscapes in Brooklyn and London to promote The Colour in Anything.
He Unearthed Frank Ocean from His Tomb for a Verse and Some Inspiration
Alright, so the mysterious Drank Potion we referenced earlier is actually our beloved Frank Ocean. We’re still mad at him for denying us more of his beautiful chops, but we’re less mad now that he’s featured on Blake’s dreary, 21st century sad boy ballad “My Willing Heart.” Blake even credited Ocean as being a “huge inspiration” for the record. “His process, the way he writes, the strength of what he does, who he is. We became very good friends,” Blake said of Ocean.
While we wait for Ocean’s long lost album, we’ll be listening to Blake’s The Colour in Anything on repeat.
Stay tuned to Milk for more music news.
Images via Sir Quentin Blake and Getty.