Since its release, “No Beginning No End” has charmed it way through reviews with its sophistication and sensuality. James wholly involved himself by financing and producing the album prior to being signed on to the prestigious Blue Note label – conveniently exploiting the emotionally visceral aspect of his musical labour. It is the anomaly of that special connection between the artist and listener, which adds a magical touch to the album.
Anticipation is key, and it was built up with impeccable timing, starting way back in late 2011, from live performances on the All Saints Basement Sessions, to regular airplay on mixes/podcasts from the likes of Lefto and Giles Peterson. Punters eagerly tugged at the bait, as essential remixes of “Trouble” by Oh No” and “Its All Over Your Body” by Oddisee began to surface.
While the coherence of jazz is often misconstrued in modern music, “No Beginning No End” embraces its diverse practicality, making it relatable to the audience. In pursuing this creative experiment of fusing jazz together with soul and hip hop, the album unfolds in exceptional glory, seductive and romantic. It straddles between the contemporary and conventional, where music is injected with a fresh perspective without straying from the catalyst of traditional influences.
A number of established collaborators were involved in this musical brew, Robert Glasper and Chris Dave lend their distinctively melodic groove to “Vanguard”, while French-Moroccan chanteuse Hindi Zahra's hypnotic vocals waver on the Afro-tinged percussion and infectious bassline of “Sword + Gun”.
“Heaven on The Ground” is a stripped-down duet so incredibly tender and sexy, featuring English singer/songwriter Emily King, who is also on the pop-infused acoustic ballad “Come to My Door”.
“Do You Feel” and “Bird of Space” takes flight with its jazz tip, heartfelt and intoxicating, especially so when infused with his baritone vocals – that is reminiscent of soul legends Al Green, Marvyn Gaye and Bill Withers. With a heightened sense of maturity, James is a remarkable songwriter who spins poetry into a web of emotive soundscape, that is a mixed feeling of curiosity, loneliness, love and acceptance all at the same time.
“No Beginning No End” has already reached Top 5 on iTunes Canada, Japan, Ireland, France and USA as I type this. It is worth the hype, and one that I would recommend getting on.
01. It's All Over Your Body
02. Sword + Gun (feat. Hindi Zahra)
05. Come To My Door
06. Heaven On The Ground (feat. Emily King)
07. Do You Feel
08. Make it Right
09. Bird of Space
10. No Beginning No End
12. Come to My Door (Acoustic Version)
Jose James will be swinging by Singapore for his “No Beginning No End 2013” tour and performing at TAB on 18th February. Tickets available here.