Friday, 16 July 2010

James Blackshaw - 'All Is Falling' (Young God)

You can be forgiven if the name of James Blackshaw has been undetected your musical radar. He is undoubtedly one of those artists who wait for you to come to him rather than the other way round which only adds to the essence and talent of this young man.

Be aware, James Blackshaw is not going to write and perform songs that will make your pulse quicken, nor will they be ones that you will race to your friends about. To me, the music of Blackshaw is something that I like to keep to myself, a secret sanctuary of pure music that cleanses the palette of the myriad and mish-mash of the zeitgeist we have today.

The first track on his new album, ‘All Is Falling’, greets you in with a wonderful sweeping wave of layered piano sounds. This acts as an almost enchanted greeting to his 8th studio album and you can’t help but immediately ascertain that this track would sound excellent at the start of an independent movie or documentary. This is a trend that is continued with each and every track on the album.

In the second track, ‘Part 2, James gets to flex his foremost talent in his repertoire, his penchant for the 12-stringed acoustic guitar. However, this is a somewhat subdued introduction which would be more apt for a noble court in Tudor times. However, the song segues very nicely in a very interesting outro that is embellished by a wonderful string section and would conjures up an image of the film ‘Donnie Darko’ in your minds eye.

In ‘Part 3’, the tempo and rhythm shift somewhat to an Eastern influence. You could imagine this music being set to some epic romance story. Even at this early stage in the album, you get the feeling that James Blackshaw is not simply offering a random assortment of music, but is trying to manufacture a soundtrack for your life and you can tell that this is a task that he relishes.

In ‘Part 4’ and ‘Part 5’, you are treated to some more excellent chord progressions and displays of musical mastery however, as polished and attractive as the production of this album is, you cannot help but feel that the introduction of some lyrical content into these songs would give James Blackshaw that extra edge in his craft. However, as aforementioned, this is something that he does not want to achieve. This is an artist that is happy to be playing in the background of some cosmopolitan coffee shop rather than in the world’s most elaborate halls.

The closest thing you get to words in this album is a beat count in that his ‘sung’ fore mostly by a female vocalist and this is echoed by a male counterpart. This is one of the best tracks on the album, everything just slots together nicely and works well and this continues into the next track.

By far the most interesting song on the album is the last one. You are greeted by something electric, much departed from the acoustic state of its predecessors. The music acts like a tide coming in, almost heralding the end of the album. You cannot help but make comparison’s to start of the Pink Floyd album ‘Meddle’ and this is more than welcomed by the listener and provides a fitting end to a veritable feast.

James Blackshaw is very much a niche artist, however, if you are satisfied with intelligent and thoughtful music as I am, he should not be a stranger to you any longer.

Words: Barclay Quarton

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