Last weekend saw the release of José James new album, aptly entitled Love In A Time Of Madness. We are all being surrounded, whether we like it or not, by a constant stream of news, good or bad, and sometimes we feel like drowning in that sea of uninterrupted and, at times, incongruous words.
Step in José James: new man, new voice, new soft, clever touch, an artist evolving “in a time of madness”. The album was originally going to be a double one, depicting, on one side, “Love” and on the other, social irresponsibility, inequality and violence, BUT, James found himself steering more towards the healing side of the work, so here is an album that most will find totally different because IT IS different.
Amongst the funk, soul, beats, electronic pop and hip-hop references, there are folk and gospel elements which make the work a 'page' we want to read over and over.
The album opens with a soul piece, Always There presenting James’s new voice - soft and suave - but as we go deeper and listen more, What Good is Love demonstrates the artist's new persona, his evolvement, and what good is an artist if he/ she cannot evolve?
Last Night, with its electronic and hypnotic beat, a song of love, but a love that is not always a good one or a romantic one. James tells us as it is, the whole story. Remember Our Love is a tender yet sad song, love as deconstructed, love as something that has been good, but is no more. Listening to the words, one will find oneself singing along. And that’s a good thing, too!James’s voice is just beautiful on this track.
Then the tempo changes into a dance floor tune, Live Your Fantasy; many of us will dance to this…let’s not lie, we know we want to!
What is really refreshing on this album is also the writing, which is totally different from James’s previous works; new collaborations with Tario and Likeminds will give the listeners a new picture, a new sound, and James’s voice is beautiful and chameleon-like, changing subtly to fit the mood and the story-line.
Top tracks: What Good Is Love and Breakthrough, bringing a wave of forlorn love to this work, one has to appreciate the artist’s honesty and lyrical approach towards his new album.
And then, a little gem at the end, a beautiful rendition in I’m Yours featuring Oleta Adams. Two voices in unison, magnetic and utterly soulful.
Love In A Time Of Madness was released on the 24th February on Blue Note Records.