JAMES BLAKE plays the Danforth Music Hall May 4. See listings. Rating: NNNN
While his 2011 self-titled debut made a massive impact, James Blake's songs were criticized for, well, barely being songs. Many were just a fragment of a sentence mournfully unfolding over starkly skeletal rhythms and torch-song piano chords. However, that minimalism was also what fans loved about him, and the move toward more conventional piano ballads on the Enough Thunder EP caused concern that he might evolve into just another sad-sack singer/songwriter.
Overgrown quickly dispels those fears, and reveals great progress without losing the idiosyncratic approach that initially captured our imagination. His songs are like sonic states: slowly evolving loops obsessing over a fragment of an emotional wound, trying to make sense of it. On Overgrown, the chord progressions are more complex and the lyrics less abstracted, but it's still the James Blake we love. Even RZA's bizarrely emotional guest verse on Take A Fall For Me makes perfect sense.
Top track: Voyeur