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CD review: James Blake’s ‘James Blake’

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James Blake
James Blake
Four stars

Not down with dubstep? Don’t dismiss James Blake’s James Blake out of hand. The London composer’s first full-length takes two giant steps away from the skittery, syncopated beats that defined last year’s acclaimed EP trio. This time, the 21-year-old’s soulful voice is as central to the overall experience as the futuristic electronic elements enveloping it. Words matter—“My brother and my sister don’t speak to me/But I don’t blame them” from “I Never Learnt to Share,” for example, packs a powerful emotional punch—but more striking than the lyrics are the ways Blake manipulates them, harmonizing with himself, phrasing and rephrasing, slowing and speeding up, deconstructing and reassembling, without letting trickery overwhelm mood. Unconvinced? Stream standout track “The Wilhelm Scream” on YouTube. It’s the sound of a studio whiz kid showing he’s got lots more to offer.

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Spencer Patterson

Spencer Patterson is the Editor of Las Vegas Weekly, having previously served as Managing Editor, Arts & Entertainment Editor and ...

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