Allow me to introduce you to an unparalleled thespian of the modern era: Zachary James. Starting his career on Broadway, Zachary James made the quite the splash with his debut emergence into the world of opera. Embodying the essence of former president, Abraham Lincoln, James’s talent got its first gleam in the world premiere of Philip Glass’s ‘The Perfect American’. Since then he has unleashed his talent across the stages of the globe, garnering the highest praise from prestigious magazines like Broadway World and Opera Wire.
So, one may ask, what is this operatic genius up to these days? Following a 2019 return to English National Opera for Philip Glass’s ‘Akhnaten’, the legendary virtuoso has since illuminated his boundless range of creativity with his latest, eclectic endeavour: the cover album known as ‘Intergalactic’.
This alt-pop/classical meet-cute is the perfect blend of debonair fantasy and toasty-warm nostalgia; a blend that is going to add the right amount of sheen to this year’s cold Christmas!
Jumping straight into the first of many songs I became enamoured by, I acquaint you with the gorgeous re-telling of Finneas’ ‘The 90s’!
There is a monomaniacal twinkle to this melody - embellished with an andante, deliquescent romance – that bolsters the poignancy of Finneas’ single. You yourself start longing for that distant world without the internet, the melody exudes a certain chill that comes with knowing that the past will never return, and our lives will never be as private as what they were.
Although that coldness is undeniable, the gleam of the imagery is just as indubitable. You become fully immersed into a dreamscape of iridescent brass and keyboard elements that are reminiscent of gyres of starlight. Beautifully ornamented with the blown-out-speaker style of James’s gentle vocals, I feel as if the composition perfectly reflects the roseate tint we give our memories, whilst incorporating that Jovian otherworldliness that promises a brighter future.
The glossy timbre that permeates across the marriage of the instrumentation is simply addictive! I could easily picture this track in an old arcade game, there is a feeling of epic heroism that lies atop the dichotomy of classical instrumentals and modernised psychedelia.
Now this next track is – for me - unparalleled in its mesmerising softness and adagio concoction of tranquillity. Of course, I’m referring to Zachary James’s take on David Guetta’s ‘When Love Takes Over’. Employing the help of the immeasurably talented, Eduardo Espin and his bewitching use of the ukulele, the duo created an ineffable narrative of overwhelming love.
Opening with a pretty pizzicato, the light timbre of the ukulele wastes no time in establishing a mellow tonality that beckons the listener to slow sway as their stresses melt away. Efflorescent atop the honeyed croon of the string instrumentals, the melody becomes enriched by Zachary James’s soothing, saccharine voice.
The harmonies balletically glissade over the track to inspire the spring-spritzed phosphenes that you feel when Zachary James overlaps his own backing vocals. Yes, this is somnolent in the best way, but you won’t find yourself questioning the passion that is audible in every note.
Gracefully falling into a diaphanous diminuendo, the vocals and ukulele sequestered, you can’t help but imagine dancing with a lover during the last dance of the night. This track is the epitome of peace. Berceuse. Beautiful. Buoyant.
This album ends with a suave original piece from Zachary James, a track that incorporates James’s creativity like no other single in this album. Of the name ‘Here I Come’, this track is made aureate with the help of American rapper, King Marino, and German multi-brass instrumentalist Artem Koryapin.
This song’s introduction makes me want to wear a velvet smoking jacket and fill its pockets with wads of cash that I can only dream of making. The introduction is stylish, sensuous, and most definitely – sophisticated.
I can’t praise Koryapin’s gallant abilities enough; his brassy grandiloquence serves as the golden crinoline to this courtly single. Smoked with the patchwork of raw edge from King Marino’s fire-polished precision, the two elements enter into a dalliance that left me wishing the classical and rap genres colluded more often.
Needless to say, the cherry on top of ‘Here I Come’ has got to be the performance from Zachary James. Meandering around a dulcet spume of female vocals, James’s delivers his performance with an elysian purity that I have heard no where else.
Leaving us with a final note of that 30s jazz twang I oh so adore, the track comes to end and with that, the end of an insanely creative album.
I want more, Zachary James (hint, hint).
‘Intergalactic’ is a mosaic of experience, nuance and inventiveness that reminds me why I fell in love with music in the first place. I can’t recommend this album enough and I think it takes the cake – this is the best album of 2022!
It is also available to listen to right now, from today, so what more needs to be said? Come to think of it, there is something else…
Zachary James is touring globally right now! Currently in LA, James plans to set the UK ablaze next and me, being very British, is going to pop the kettle on and browse tickets. Aren’t you?
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