Reviews

James Bay “Leap” (Deluxe Edition) Album Review

Leap (Deluxe Edition)

James Bay

  • Genre: Alternative
  • Release Date: 2022-07-12
  • Explicitness: cleaned
  • Country: UK
  • Track Count: 16
  • ℗ 2022 Mercury Records/Republic Records, a division of UMG Recordings, Inc.

Leap is James Bay’s most introspective album to date, despite the fact that he has never shied away from sharing his most intimate thoughts and feelings with his listeners. It’s a good vehicle for delivering the album’s overarching message of hope coming out of the challenging times we’ve all recently been through because it combines this candor with an increasingly complex sound.

Although Bay calls this “the most positive thing” he has ever written, there is still room for Bay to address challenging topics and reveal the Grammy-nominated singer at his most vulnerable. In a crucial and unusual way, the 12 songs on the album, plus the additional 4 tracks, function almost like a diary for the musician, examining personal struggles with self-worth, loneliness, and the fight to keep going when it seems all hope is lost. However, it also pushes through to the other side and the healing, joy, and contentment found at the top of the mountain.

Album Cover Art

James Bay &Quot;Leap&Quot; (Deluxe Edition) Album Review, Yours Truly, Reviews, April 13, 2024

Bay can be seen photographed standing on a platform that appears to be some sort of in-house stage. Dressed like a country music star in in a T-shirt and jacket that is worn over a slim-fit jeans and nice black boots, with his guitar slung across his shoulders and a hat to top it off, Bay stands behind the album title that is stylishly written and spread across the photo.

Adding some life to the ambience are the bright colors from the stage light and the lyric-displaying projecting screen positioned behind Bay, giving the scene that karaoke bar feel. Standing before the microphone stand, the artist looks set to take that Leap of thrilling his audience.

Tracks and Features

With the gentle strumming of the guitar, the deluxe version of Leap goes live with “Chew On My Heart” with Bay singing sweetly about a love interest he appears to be hooked on. He yearns to experience every shade of his lover, tearing him apart and chewing his heart included. He also got personal as he touched on how he’s spiralling and how much his lover can help with holding him together. Introducing those drum sounds was a great production choice.

It’s possible that Bay was writing about someone else at the time; he dedicated Leap track “One Life” to his girlfriend and said the two have been together every day since they were 16. It takes a while for the optimism to become apparent with the love ballad “One Life.” The mid-tempo acoustic guitar ballad has Bay proclaiming that he could never do this without his girlfriend, Lucy, with whom he has a child.

“Do you want to marry me?” he asks. “Tell me that you’ll never let me go.” Still, this song mentions where James Bay was coming from: “Sometimes I get sad/ At the front/ At the back/ In the middle of the/ Happiest moments/ ‘Cause good things can go bad/ Easily.”

On the stripped acoustic version of “Give Me The Reason,” he sings about nearly calling off a relationship but pleading for an excuse to stay. Cowritten with Irish artist Foy Vance and with drumming by Ian Fitchuk (Kacey Musgraves), the song starts as a folky slow-burner before exploding into a more atmospheric number with anthemic synths. Still, those lyrics bring a heaviness that balances out hope.

Last but not least is the acoustic version of the aforementioned song, “Chew On My Heart”. Same song with some additional acoustic guitar goodness fused into the whole thing.

Tracks

NO Title Time
1 Give Me The Reason 3:54
2 Nowhere Left To Go 3:24
3 Save Your Love 3:23
4 Everybody Needs Someone 3:28
5 One Life 3:25
6 Silent Love 3:34
7 Love Don’t Hate Me 3:27
8 Brilliant Still 3:33
9 Right Now 4:12
10 We Used To Shine 3:48
11 Endless Summer Nights 3:29
12 Better 4:02
13 Chew On My Heart 3:15
14 One Life 3:19
15 Give Me The Reason 3:52
16 Chew On My Heart 3:17

Album Theme

Inundated with moments of both outright despair and newfound optimism, it becomes immediately apparent that the theme of raw, unadulterated honesty is held with the utmost importance throughout Leap. Though highly personal, what comes as most striking about the album is Bay’s ability to find the balance between his refined, meticulous songwriting style and his stripped-back, heart-on-sleeve approach to his vocals and lyrics.

Production Credits

Producers on the album include Benjamin Rice, Dave Cobb, FINNEAS, Gabe Simon, Ian Fitchuk, James Bay, Joel Little, Jon Green & Sacha Skarbek.

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