Release Date: Mar 24, 2015
Record label: Republic
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Folk
James Bay is a young British singer and songwriter whose heartfelt songs and passionate vocal style suggest a greater maturity and experience than one would expect from an artist whose debut album was released when he was 24 years old. Chaos and the Calm, Bay's first full-length album following a pair of well-received EPs, reveals he has a precocious talent as a songwriter, guitarist, and vocalist, and is just as comfortable with outgoing tracks like "Collide" as he is with intimate, personal numbers such as "Let It Go" as he winds together elements of pop, folk, rock, blues, and soul. Often compared to Ed Sheeran and Ben Howard, Chaos and the Calm shows James Bay has the style and the ability to stand on his own, and it's the work of a new performer with an impressive potential.
“Everyone’s life the same as yesterday / Just like the ticking of clocks.” British singer/songwriter James Bay “hits the nail right on the head” on the aforementioned lyric, which applies to everything, specifically how people live their lives worldwide. It is clever, relatable moments such as ‘life’s rut’ isolated here that makes Bay’s debut Chaos and the Calm a pleasant listen with tremendous potential. Bay is an artist who thrives off of passion and raw emotion as opposed to being particularly complex or verbose.
There really is no getting around it. Other than Madonna’s dramatic fall and Kanye West’s controversial performance, this year’s BRIT Awards were a snoozefest. Even the absence of James Corden could not save the show, which was largely dominated by former winner of the Critics’ Choice Award Sam Smith. And that can only be good news for the new incumbent of the award, Hertfordshire singer-songwriter James Bay.
James Bay was never going to reinvent the vaguely blues-rock wheel. After releasing three EPs and bagging this year’s Brits critics’ choice award, the 24-year-old from Hitchin has made a predictably safe album. That’s not to say Bay isn’t a capable singer-songwriter-guitarist, and one blessed with an expressively husky voice. Rather, Chaos and the Calm churns out pleasant but forgettable, festival-ready anthems.
The surprise winner of this year’s Brits critics’ choice award, James Bay resembles a pretty-boy Jack White and sounds like Bryan Adams by way of Bon Iver. In other words, the hat-sporting balladeer from Hitchin is the perfect X Factor-era star, his every move revealing his debt to other acts. There is nothing wrong with Bay’s rasping voice but, with one or two notable exceptions (last year’s single Hold Back the River; the raw Scars on which he tackles a long-distance relationship), his debut is anodyne if ruthlessly efficient.