Artist: José James
Album: No Beginning, No End
The third album by Minneapaolis-born Neo-Soul vocalist José James can be likened to a tall, ponderous cup of coffee, full bodied, warm and stirring throughout. That being said, the individual tracks on NBNE consistently rise above the pleasantly unengaging sounds of most café music. It is clear that there is a singular talent behind the vocals of James, and there is an older jazz sensibility being adhered to in some ways — instead of singing over arrangements, James becomes part of the instrumentation of the band, falling and rising with the rhythm and melody. This is especially apparent on standout track “Vanguard,” which combines the radiant emotion of soul music with the complexity of modern jazz.
The mixture of these various styles and influences contributes to a rich experience that, although highly evocative of other artists at times, is a solid and genuine work by someone with great skill and greater potential. The album will see its official release on January 22 as a major label debut on the illustrious jazz label Blue Note Records, and is certain to gain a wider domestic audience for James, who has already found much acclaim in Europe and Japan.
Give These Tracks a Listen: “Vanguard,” “It’s All Over Your Body”
For Fans Of: Jamiroquai, Marvin Gaye, D’Angelo
— Andrew Russell