ALBUM WEEK| James Bay – Chaos and the Calm
Having released three EPs and won this year’s Brits Critics’ Choice Award, James Bay’s debut album Chaos and the Calm has been highly anticipated. It features the popular single Hold Back the River and the album as a whole marks Bay’s move away from a solo style to a more produced, collected sound. In this album Bay is backed by a full band to fairly good effect, giving all the songs more punch and depth.
The album has a festival feel as a whole, with many songs featuring a upbeat and vocal chorus. While it will certainly be a big hit this summer, Chaos and the Calm feels fairly ordinary and forgettable. James Bay certainly has talent, his voice manages to cover a wide range and has a distinctive husky sound to it, but few of the tracks bear any memorability. The album sticks to a safe mid-tempo acoustic style and feels generic in parts, although Hold Back the River and Scars are both worth a second listen.
Overall, Chaos and the Calm is an underwhelming debut for an artist who was the centre of a lot of hype. While the album could be seen as a solid foundation for Bay to launch his career, it also lacks any qualities to make him stand out from the singer-songwriter crowd.