Having been a fan of James, for the best part of 9 years now, there are just not enough words to describe how much love I have for this Manchester based band. I think over the years I have been to so many shows that I have lost count, and also got my hands on a range of the excellent albums they have created too. The best thing about their music is that it doesn’t matter who you are or how old you are, you can guarantee you will always bump into someone who too has had the influence of James in their life in some shape or form.
As musicians what excites me about this band is that they are always pushing the boundaries be that sonically or lyracially, with each and every album they have released representing the different stages of their career. There are records full of emotion, others which get you thinking, and then others which make bring a smile to your face, which is what I love most about James, the fact that you never know which direction you are going to go because they will always keep you on your toes.
With that said therefore, at the beginning of June, the band released their latest album, All The Colours of You, which really shows that when it comes to getting to the heart of those raw emotions we experience in life, frontman Tim Booth is not afraid to face them head on, and this is one of the reasons why I have so much respect for him.
So let us unpack the new record a bit more, and look at it in a bit more detail, because it will allow you to get a grasp of what All The Colours of You is about, and also why it will probably be one of the most powerful records you will ever listen to. In true tradition however, I won’t be that guy that gives away all the best secrets about the album, but instead give you a few pointers for tracks to watch out for. As I always say I provide some of the dots, the extra are for you to experience for yourself.
The album starts with opening track ZERO which has quite an enchanting introduction to it. At first you may feel a bit thrown off guard by Tim singing the words ‘Were all going to die….’, however hang in there because once you allow your mind to find it’s bearings, when you continue to listen to the song in all its entirely is actually quite beautiful. What I took from the spirit of ZERO was that is serves as a reminder of the importance of not worrying and over thinking the different areas of your life, how good or bad they have become, but instead just be present in the moment, living as best as you can. This was only the first song, but already I was welling up with emotion because the exceptional way that Tim combines vulnerability, strength and hope the way he has articulated through this song, wow, it certainly packs a punch in the best way possible.
Each and every music fan is different, and that is cool, but for me, I look for the resonating moment when it comes to checking out music, be it the first time I have listened to it, or the tenth, and I can say hand on heart as far as ZERO is concerned, I felt that instant connection to the song every single time.
If your looking for that song to sing at the top of your lungs to as you embrace the depth and emotion for what it is, then the title track, All The Colours Of You, is definitely a track which won’t disappoint. It has all the elements that go into any iconic James track - from the vibrant rhythms and catchy hooks, to the incredible lyrics which hit the spot and touch your heart. While there very clever reference to the times of covid and lock-downs, with lines such as ‘Tell me how you're staying sane, Haven't hugged a human since the end of May, Quarantine with you, Our world's a private zoo’, I think that not only is this a song that anyone can relate to, but they can relate to it for a multitude of reasons. The pandemic may be referred to, but this song goes much bigger than that. As I said at the beginning, Tim is not afraid to go face to face with those raw thoughts and emotions, and I think this song certainly of the band’s ability to create safe spaces within music when it comes to having that honest discussion with your own internal monologue. Getting pretty deep there, I know, but hey that is the beauty of James, they will make you think outside of the box as a listener.
Looking at what is on offer on the rest of album, then there are a couple of tracks I would certainly recommend to put on your radar - Wherever It Takes Us and Hush. I like it whenever an album has diverse twists and turns, and I think these two tracks are some of the many remarkable songs which successfully do that. Wherever It Takes Us for example, what drew me in about this song instantly was creativity with the instrumental side to the track itself, it feels like band painting a sonic canvas filled with so much texture and detail, all through the power of music. Put that together with the vocals and poetic lyrics, then oh my word, it will be one of the most captivating songs to bless your ears and mind.
Hush on the other hand, admittedly is one that put me on the backfoot ever so slightly, not in a bad way, but for how it really encourages you to think at a deeper level emotively. For example part of the chorus, ‘I'm in line at the best of times, in death I have to fade, I will wait, I will wait, I will wait’ we are dipping our toe into the darkest parts of our thoughts, but we do not have to fear as James are safely walking us those inner echoes of our mind.
While this album may not be for the faint-hearted, I cannot reminisce about this album without mentioning one last recommendation to look out for, Magic Bus. The lyrics alone are the perfect example of Tim’s strengths as a songwriter all rolled in to one - you have honesty, poetic beautiful and great signature lines such as ‘Our guru is a cat, Who lives both in this world and in mine’ which just makes you want to smile. It has that kind of psychedelic vibe to it which takes the song to another level, and trust me when you hear it yourself, it won’t take you long to be captivated by the track too.
So there you have it, just some of my thoughts on this phenomenal new album, All The Colours of You. As a band, James are continuing to go from strength to strength, and listening to records like this, it is easy to see why. How does it compare to other albums, that is for you to decide for yourself, but from my perspective as a proud James fan, I can see All The Colours of You being one of the most vibrant and must listen to albums of 2021 and beyond.
Haven’t listened to it yet? All The Colours of You is Available Now!
To stay upto date with all the latest news visit www.wearejames.com
Article By Thushara S. Chandrasiri