JAMES BLAKE at the Danforth Music Hall, Saturday, May 4. Rating: NNNN
Given that his recent second album was directly inspired by meeting Joni Mitchell, it was fitting that James Blake ended his set at the Danforth Music Hall with a solo piano cover of Mitchell's A Case Of You.
It's also no surprise that the room exploded in cheers both at the line "I drew a map of Canada," and at his cover of Feist's Limit To Your Love.
Unexpected, however, was how self-assured his own songwriting has become, and how well that new music stands up to his beloved interpretations of other artists' material.
His conventional pop sensibilities are in the foreground now, but he hasn't neglected any of the sonic extremism he famously borrowed from dubstep.
The Danforth Music Hall used to detract from any artist's show with muddy sound, but the venue has recently installed the acoustic treatments the room badly needed: as a result, Blake's intricate compositions came through beautifully, literally knocking some audience members on their asses when those menacing earth-shaking bass lines dropped.