Review: Assume Form by James Blake

By: Alvindra |

James Blake is not a stranger to music fans all over the world. The singer-songwriter-producer has contributed in producing and being featured in some of the finest albums of this decade, such as Beyonce’s Lemonade, Frank Ocean’s Endless and Blonde, Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN, Travis Scott’s Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight and Astroworld, Jay Z’s 4:44, and Black Panther The Album. As a singer-songwriter, James Blake has released four studio albums, James Blake, Overgrown, The Colour In Anything, and his latest album, Assume Form, which was released on January 18, 2019. The Electropop / Alternative R&B album is an introspective take on his past ghosts, which was explored on his first three albums, the aftermath, and everything in between.

First song “Assume Form” opens the album with Blake finally being able to feel the joy that he has never felt before. The lyrics “I will assume form, I’ll leave the ether” emphasize that Blake is ready to live his own life like everyone else, not controlled by his ghosts. The splendid piano melodies flow nicely from the intro through the climax. James Blake and Metro Boomin co-produced the song “Mile High”, featuring rapper Travis Scott, which is about a celebrity’s long distance relationship, and his effort on maintaining it. Travis and Blake synchronize beautifully on their third collaboration. On another Metro Boomin co-produced track, “Tell Them”, Blake and Moses Sumney reflect on the one night stand culture and the commitment and trust issues behind it. “Into The Red” introduces us to the reason this album was written in the first place, actress Jameela Jamil. In one of the best produced songs of the album, Blake expresses his gratefulness of her for being there for a major part of him going through issues related to fame and depression. Track “Barefoot In The Park” continues the theme as he and Spanish singer ROSALÍA talk about him going through depression and slowly opening up to his partner. The track “Can’t Believe The Way We Flow” is another track about his relationship. Tracks such as “Are You In Love?” and “Where’s The Catch” assert Blake’s trust issues as he questions things when everything seems too good to be true. The lyrics “Don’t take away this one defense of mine / I reserve the right to disappear / I reserve a table for old time / Back then, it wouldn’t have even crossed my mind” highlight his cynical side when he questions his partner’s feelings towards him, while Andre 3000’s verse “Harmony, harmony, how many, how many / Days of amazin’ will it be before it phases? / And I say, “I told you so” foresees the situation as an omen, that things will fall apart eventually. Andre 3000’s flow really mashed well with Blake’s bleak electronic beat. The track “I’ll Come Too” saw Blake finally adjusting to his new relationship and coming to terms with the fact that he is in love. The production in this track is reminiscent to Frank Ocean’s Blonde, which he help co-produced. The song “Power On” continues the theme of adjusting to a new relationship and how the relationship helps Blake grow as a person. On single “Don’t Miss It”, Blake looks at his depression introspectively. The track is one of the most beautiful in the album, with exceptional production and very personal and emotional lyrics. Track “Lullaby For My Insomniac” closes the album perfectly, as Blake, who is very grateful for the help and support he gets from his partner, expresses that he is also willing to help his partner face her own demons.

Overall, Assume Form is a very beautiful, emotional, deep album with top notch production. The features on this album are on point and Blake as an artist is able to turn a period of his life into a marvelous piece of art. The genuine and introspective approach of this album makes it even better. Although the year is still very young, it is safe to say that Assume Form has the potential to be one of the front runner of this year’s top albums. Outstanding tracks including “Into The Red”, “Are You In Love”, “Where’s The Catch?”, “I’ll Come Too”, and “Don’t Miss It”. I really recommend this album for people who enjoy Frank Ocean, Sampha, How To Dress Well, Blood Orange, and obviously James Blake’s previous works.

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