Current Album Review: Chaos and the Calm



Abby Turner

James Bay is a 23 year old acoustic alt-pop artist from Hitchin, Hertsfordshire. Bay is easily compared to fellow British artists George Ezra and Ed Sheeran, with similarity in raw lyrics and a gravely, alluring voices.

Bay released his debut album Chaos and the Calm in March of this year. The album is intimate and satisfies the listener with James’ incredible vocals.

The first track, “Craving,” introduces Bay as a small town boy looking for an escape. He repeats that he’s craving something he can feel, perhaps something outside of his neighborhood routine. A light rock and roll feel looms over Bay’s ravishing voice.

Bays next song, “Hold Back The River,” resonates like an extremely modern hymn. His powerful vocals and original sound set him apart in this song.

Next on the album is “Let It Go,” which is his most popular track to date. The song features flawless vocals and a soft guitar. With lyrics like “Why don’t you be you / And I’ll be me,” James suggests a relationship that just needs to be let go because of life changing around the couple. “Let It Go” is authentic and well written.

Fourth up is “If You Ever Want To Be In Love.” This song has powerful background music and a choir-like backup. The song is nothing special and lacks meaning.

“Best Fake Smile” is a fantastic groovy rock vocal. Lyrics cry, “And you don’t have to care so don’t pretend / Nobody needs a best fake friend.” James’ feisty vocals are matched by his aggressive gravely voice.

The next track, “When We Were On Fire,” tells a story of a loss of spark in a relationship. Bay strains his raw voice to a Sheeran-like ballad. Strong acoustic guitar and drum complete the song.

“Move Together” is a soft and slow ballad which strongly features Bay’s gorgeous tone. The track is a calm, lovely song but lacks any real hook. Violin, guitar, and soft drum leave a dreamy, delicate feel.

“Scars” took two years for James Bay to write, according to his Live Spotify Session in August of this year. The track features electric guitar that builds to a loud climax and bold vocals from Bay. The song shows a stripped down and vulnerable version of Bay. With genuine lyrics, “We live through scars this time / But I’ve made up my mind / We can’t leave us behind anymore,” it shows a desperate side of James to keep a relationship alive despite the struggles.

Next is “Collide,” reminiscent of the classic rock of Elvis and other rock kings. Bay’s unique vocals set him apart, however. Simulated hand claps and fun electric guitar make this a contrasting lively track.

“Get Out While You Can” continues the upbeat vibe of “Collide.” Bay’s high notes are electrifying and the merry guitar and drums cause this track to be a great listen.

Following is “Need The Sun To Break” and “Incomplete.” These two songs lack a certain meaning or enthusiasm that the rest of chaos and the calm gives.

James Bay’s Chaos And The Calm is overall a safe album for the rising star. The songs to check out are “Let It Go,” “Scars,” and “Hold Back The River.” James also has a Spotify Session with live versions of those three tracks plus a few more.

Bay has a lot of talent and shows an authentic side that the industry is craving- so do not hesitate and give his album a listen!