Review by Bailey Garno
On June 3rd, James Bay released his second EP alongside Republic Records, titled Let It Go. Having written a past Feature Friday on this artist, I was excited to hear the news that the UK singer/songwriter had new material out. I listened to the five track EP on Spotify and—as suspected—Bay does not disappoint.
Before the EP’s full release, the lead track and Bay’s single “If You Ever Want To Be In Love” was premiered on nylon.com on June 2nd, and received positive and praising reviews. Bay shines with his ballads, however the Hitchin native produces something different here that is equally wonderful. “If You Ever Want To Be In Love” is an uplifting, piano-driven track, with Bay and a supporting choir in the chorus. Knowing how Bay is inclined to the ballad, he shows audiences his range with this lead single.
“If You Ever Want To Be In Love” would likely be my favorite track on the EP if I could actually get “Let It Go” out of my head. Ever since I first started listening to this tune when writing Bay’s feature in April, I haven’t been able to stop. The title track will pull at your heartstrings every time you hear Bay croon verses of defeat and loss. The song tells a well-known love story of realizing when it’s time to give up on something, knowing that doing so would be best for everyone. Every time Bay belts out the chorus in his characteristically warm, raspy voice, you will be convinced of his talent over again.
“Heavy Handed” appears as the third track on the EP. Compared to the rest of the EP, this song is instrumentally dense, whereas the acoustic simplicity that appears in songs like “Let It Go” and “Hear Your Heart” lets Bay’s vocal talent soar. There are also hints of a country twang to this song, something I shy away from as a listener. For me, “Heavy Handed” is the weakest track off of Let It Go; but even still, it’s not unlistenable.
Following “Heavy Handed” is “Hear Your Heart,” in which Bay reverts back to plucking and strumming. It also offers more of the gospel sound heard in his title track, which lends to Bay’s own soulful voice. “Hear Your Heart” has a very sensual sound, something I’d like to play on a breezy summer night.
The last track off of Let It Go is another positive mark on the album. Titled “Running,” this song made my ears perk up as soon as I heard Bay’s whisperings over a soft, low piano. From the start of the song, you can feel something powerful building underneath the swaying tempo, what with the reappearance of the supporting choir and the clear piano keys, but instead it’s just the ever-talented Bay’s sermons of unequivocal love and devotion.
James Bay has a capturing sound, and he proves with Let It Go that his comparisons to Bob Dylan or James Taylor are grounded in some truth. This EP works because although there is a lack of variability in tempo, each song is absolutely distinguished from the rest. You will enjoy this collection from beginning to end.
Recommended Tracks: “Let It Go,” “Running,” “If You Ever Want To Be In Love”
Overall Rating: 4.5/5