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Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Blackmagic - Jose James

Album Review written by Imran Mirza


It’s interesting to see how ‘Blackmagic’ is going to be received by James’ established fanbase.  As music fans, we reserve the right to broaden our tastes to include music ranging from Kanye West to Radiohead, but for some reason, that type of versatility isn’t always as welcome within our artists – I guess ultimately we want to know what we’re getting when we pick up a CD.

Fans of Jose James’ first outing, ‘The Dreamer’, will mark the notable departure from the Coltrane-inspired jazz of his debut, towards a more universal soul aesthetic on ‘Blackmagic’ – a style of music that James teased with his B-side collaboration with Flying Lotus, ‘Visions of Violet’, released shortly after ‘The Dreamer’, and who also appears on ‘Blackmagic’ along with another welcome collaborator, Moodyman [Ed – we urge you to check out Moodyman’s remix of James’ ‘Desire’ from ‘The Dreamer’, available from iTunes, as it’s ace!]

Between albums, James’ catalogue has grown considerably, and his versatile and varied work with names ranging from Flying Lotus, Jazzanova, Nicola Conte, Basement Jaxx and J.A.M. were fairly strong indications that his sophomore release would never really replicate his past effort.  Even the series of remixes that were released from ‘The Dreamer’ had James’ work reimagined by house and dance luminaries like IG Culture and Ben Westbeech, which all of these projects have gone on to present James as not just a jazz vocalist, but an artist with an appreciation of good music, and the many styles and genres you can present it in.

‘Blackmagic’ embraces soul music on practically every platform as the album is very much a project that immerses itself in ‘love’, evident in many of the song’s titles as well, but none of what’s written is meant to serve as a warning that James’ product has become compromised in any way – his vocal still melts like butter on a thick slice of warm bread; his production and writing have gained even more confidence, and ‘Blackmagic’ is an exciting step in James’ evolution as an artist.

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