Review & Press Interview: ‘Leap’ by James Bay

Leap is probably James Bay’s most intense album to date. In there, he has his heart wide ope in confrontation with a raw creativity, splashing fire sparks in the most natural and untamed way. The immerse emotions and intricate feelings feel like nerves being exposed out in the open, taking the listeners by storm. Everything is amplified. From the beginning to end, Leap feels almost bloody, like an open wound, like a battlefield, where everything is articulated and communicated in such a beautiful yet wrenching way. Love, lust, desire, eternity, sadness, etc — everything that makes up life is sealed into 16 timeless songs, where it can be forever.

James Bay is an artist who you just have to pull quote from because his lyrics are too brilliant and too truthful. In “Silent Love,” Bay speaks about love in the purest form, where it’s painful when it’s invisible, it’s inspirational when it happens, and it’s naked when it’s true. “You will always spark the light in me, you will always fuck me up the best” speaks about being vulnerable in a relationship. The sleepless night and longings feel like an ache but not without warmth. “You knew my name, all of your friends, knew what I felt was not pretend, my heart was see-through” speaks about the transparency and intensity of falling in love. In many ways, the experience can’t be expressed in words. It’s a silent love but a moment of locked eyes speaks louder than words.

When asking about his favorite track in the album, Bay told us about “Endless Summer Night.” It isn’t one about relationship, but the experience of a moment you want to last forever. In the track, Bay goes back to an early experience camping at a music festival. At nightfall, the haziness and the glow, brewing in the air was everything that he wanted his listeners to feel. “It felt juvenile and brilliant,” Bay spoke about the mood in the song and the mood that he was still drawn to even after many years.

Many songs in Leap came from a deeply personal and emotional moments, but James Bay aims to bring forth a soft light of hopefulness through his songs, whether what he was singing about was heavy, tearful, or happy. There’s always something to appreciate, even in the darkest moments. Commenting on the leap of faith, Bay admitted that Leap was his own artistic moment to “face the fear.” “I was always writing in an abstract way,” Bay opened up about his past fear of being emotionally vulnerable in his songs and how the album has seen him evolving as an artist and a human being.

Written by Katrina Yang

Press Q&A with James Bay

Q (Rising Artist Blog): What is your favorite song in Leap? Can you tell us a little about the inspiration of the song and what makes it special?

James Bay: I want to choose “Endless Summer Nights.” It’s one of the first songs I’ve written for this album. So many of my songs do with what’s going on in a relationship, but this one involves the experience of a moment that you never ever want to end. We camped out a festival. Three days of music. The sun has just gone done. It’s just euphoria. The haziness, that glow and that magic, and it’s just glorious. I never want that to end. I just want to draw that in a song. It felt juvenile and brilliant. I want to hold onto it.

Q (Returner Magazine): What are something new that you discovered about yourself during the making of this album?

Bay: First thing that comes to mind is that it’s not as scary to be more vulnerable with my lyric writing. I’m going into a depth with reality with regard to what I say in my songs. 99% of my songs are written from a very personal experience. I was always writing in an more abstract way. My first album and sometimes with my second album. I was afraid to just say it whatever the thing may have been that I was writing about. I’m trying to do that a lot more this time because I want to face the fear, so I discovered, it’s not quite as scary, and it resonates with people. I think music is about connecting. I feel like it helps doing that even more with this album.

Q(Tornatoir): Was it difficult to portray the duality of hope and sadness through your lyrics?

Bay: There’s a line for me between saying the thing I feel. I was writing and making music from an emotional dark place. I felt like on some degree I was almost known for sad songs. On this album, I’m intentionally trying to push that boundary and change that so it’s evolving. I wanted to make songs that emphasize on hope…I just knew I wanted to make music for people to use to feel hopeful. It’s never easy.

Q(Crucial Rhythm): What would you recommend the best way to consume your album?

Bay: Driving in the car is one favorite way for me to listen to a record. I’d be honest, sitting down and making sure you’ve got nothing else to do but to staring at the speakers while listening is quite intense way to digest music, especially new music. I’d say in transit, going for a walk, getting on a train. I love a train listen. Just to kind of keep thinking outside the box. On the move is a good way. It’s a way I love to listen to music.

Q(Backward Noise): What is the process of working with different people and influences when it comes to making the album?

Bay: Everyone is chasing writing and creating all on their own. Everybody is chasing that. At some point, everyone is trying to be the only name on the album. It’s exciting when it comes off. Collaboration is the spice in life. For me, solo work is slower. All I have is me. Unless they love it, then I have to keep going back to the drawing board. Collaboration is shaking up when necessary or digging in one thing whether it’s two of you or more. It’s wonderful. They are very different experiences. Sometimes, I just need me and an instrument.

Q (Musing Zine): It’s been a gap between your last albums. How have you used the time to grow as an artist?

Bay: Two years of pandemic lockdown put into the perspective of how lucky I feel about getting to do what I do as a touring, performing, recording artist. So many of us thought about taking it for granted. It feels so incredibly special. My appreciation grew tones of million. I had a baby during that time. She absolutely enlightened our life. Overwhelmingly euphoric and terrifying at the same time. I grew and I changed and I evolved. That’s all I’ve trying to do as an artist and as a human being. Try to be tomorrow better than yesterday in my work and in my life. For the sake of variety.





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