British singer and songwriter James Bay dropped his highly anticipated and first ever studio album, “Chaos and the Calm” on March 23 via Republic Records. An artist at this year’s South by South West in Austin and a featured performer on several music festival lineups, like Chicago’s Lollapalooza, Bay has been getting a generous amount of hype in the music industry.
He has previously put out many lengthy EPs, but “Chaos and the Calm” is his first ever studio album and it did not disappoint. The album was recorded in Nashville at Blackbird Studios by Kings Of Leon producer, Jacquire King and follows the 2014 EP “Hold Back The River.”
The record starts off strong with the upbeat number “Craving” which gives the album a perfect introduction to the album with this guitar-driven sound. This track screams promise for live shows and festival stages.
The following track is Bay’s hit single, “Hold Back the River” which has received great attention from radio stations across the nation and is easily his highest profile song off the album. With layered vocals and instrumentals this song draws you in giving off the indie vibe that is a big theme in the other tracks.
The next two tracks “If You Ever Want To Be In Love” and “Let It Go” takes it down a tone and strips it to a smooth less edgy blend of rock, indie and pop. They are familiar tracks as they were featured on Bay’s second EP titled “Let It Go.” The calm, but prominent guitar riffs in these two songs compliment the beautiful lyrics.
The record picks up again with “Best Fake Smile,” which has a contagiously catchy chorus and more edgy guitar riffs making it a sure stand out on the record. Much like the opening song “Craving” this one is sure to be a crowd favorite live.
The album has some other stunners like the acoustic centered “Move Together” and “When We Were on Fire,” a sexier heavy drum anthem with a booming chorus. The song “Need The Sun To Break,” a slowed down track that is borderline acoustic with raw emotion filled lyrics and “Incomplete” the album’s stunning closer with light guitar and Bay’s soft voice really pulls the record all together while tugging on heart strings.
Overall, Bay continues to shine through in Chaos and the Calm. Bay provides an indie rock vibe with his edgy guitar melodies and catchy vocal performances. It is an album you won’t be able to stop playing.
The attention Bay is receiving is well deserved. He has been compared to other British artists like Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith. This album definitely puts Bay on the artists to watch list. With four EPs under his belt and his first U.S. headlining tour practically selling out in minutes, this singer/songwriter is breaking ground in the music industry. He is exactly what hipster pop culture is looking to listen to these days.
Songs to check out:
“If You Ever Want To Be In Love”
“Need The Sun To Break”