“I know a crossroads when I see them,” begins James Blake’s delicate return, an admission of the path ahead of him. Indeed, Blake’s at something of a turning point as he approaches the presumably imminent release of his new album ‘Radio Silence’. Something of ‘a big deal’ these days, given his Mercury Prize and endless famous friends in his phonebook, it’s a wonder he finds the time for introspection.
‘Modern Soul’ proves he’s got all the time in the world. A sprawling, unpinnable rush of blood to the head, it’s Blake at his most avant-garde, leaving behind the force of ‘200 Press’’ dancefloor indulgences in favour of pulling his clearest, most soul influenced vocal to date to the fore. Swarming and spilling over itself, it ditches structure in favour of a constant flow, a seemingly non-stop evolution of sound and texture.
At its core, ‘Modern Soul’ serves its primary purpose as evidence, were it needed, of Blake’s prowess. While advances in laptop production and the egalitarian nature of Soundcloud might appear to have levelled the playing field for the forlorn bedroom producer, ‘Modern Soul’ proves there isn’t an artist in the world turning expectations on their head quite like James Blake.