Album: James Blake, Overgrown (Polydor)

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The Independent Culture

Two conversations helped create the mindset with which Blake approached his second album.

One was with Joni Mitchell, who gave him a lecture backstage at a gig in Los Angeles on maintaining artistic integrity. The other was with his father, musician James Litherland, who pointed out that Blake's best-known works were still cover versions (Feist's "Limit to Your Love" and Litherland's own "Where to Turn", retitled "The Wilhelm Scream") and that he should, therefore, focus on his songwriting.

But Blake has never been the traditional type of singer-songwriter. Ludicrously lumped in with the dubstep movement by the media when he released his first EPs, his self-titled debut revealed him to be an introspective, depressive balladeer who happened to favour fractured beats and laptop-like production values over six strings. Overgrown picks up where James Blake left off, although the success of his debut – 400,000 sales and numerous award nominations – has helped to hook him a better class of collaborator, in the shape of Brian Eno and Wu-Tang's RZA.

At its best, Overgrown proves that James Blake doesn't need to listen to anyone's advice. He's doing fine already.