James Blake’s Assume Form - an Album True to Its Name
James Blake is an artist who is a Jack of All Trades, dabbling and touching different genres in every work he does. Assume Form is Blake embracing his role as a genre-bending artist with his boldest work to date. Over the course of his career he has worked with all types of artists, from In some of his previous works. Even the title, Assume Form, is an ode to Blake finding the balance between these genres. The album cover is just a picture of him with a black backdrop. He has realized the type of creativity he possesses and embraces it with confidence. Compare this album cover with his first album, a blurred self portrait of Blake. This callback is representative of his progress as an artists and finding his own style of creating music. While his debut album is solid, it never strays too far from the beaten path. It’s predictable, but still a decent soulful album.
Assume Form fully embraces hip hop and electronic beats, soulful ballads, and incredibly unique songwriting over its 12 tracks. Working with a cast of of two of the hottest names in rap in the form of Travis Scott and Metro Boomin, up and coming Latin star Rosalía, and the legendary André 3000, Blake expands his art to a new level.
A few of the most interesting tracks on the album are “Tell Them”, “I’ll Come Too”, and “Where’s The Catch?”
“Tell Them” is produced by Metro Boomin, and features an upbeat hip hop beat and even some flamenco clapping. Moses Sumney provides a great raspy contrast to Blake’s smooth dulcet tones. “Tell Them” is a song about a one night stand and the evils that can come with it. Blake and Sumney sing about how the night creates strife with oneself. The flow on this song is one of the best that Blake has done in his career and the chemistry between Blake and Sumney is beyond stellar.
“I’ll Come Too” is Blake’s most endearing track on the album. It details his love for his girlfriend and how little he wants to be apart from her. The song is set with Blake’s clear voice and an angelic sounding background voice. He slowly adds in traditional hip hop instruments, but in a very non-traditional way, and it totally works. While it sounds minimalistic, it is really one of the most heavily produced tracks on the album. This song is a great example of Blake channeling his inner Frank Ocean and singing about genuine love and romance.
“Where’s The Catch?” is the most unique track on the album. It contains an impressive and efficient verse from André 3000 (arguably the best feature artist of all time) that carries a lot of weight with it. André even calls himself out on this, saying “Hey, alright, now this may be a little bit heady. And, y’know, I hate heady-ass verses”, so you can’t say he’s not self aware. The song is pretty dark, talking about being eaten by a snake and general self doubt.
All in all, Assume Form is true to its name in James Blake’s career. He has come a long way since his roots and he has found his stroke and his evolution has been spurred by love as well as the world around him. Of course it has its flaws, for example, “Mile High” with Travis Scott is a good song, however, it doesn’t exactly seem to fit with the rest of the theme of the album. That being said, Assume Form is still an incredibly well thought out album and shows how an artist can be genre-fluid and make it work to an outstanding degree.