Singer-songwriter José James has always been on the quest for new musical horizons; constantly evolving and blurring the lines between genres in the process. Now on the heels of his critically acclaimed Blue Note Records debut No Beginning No End, José returns with his dynamic and daring fifth album While You Were Sleeping. While keeping his trademark soulful baritone at the forefront, José adeptly weaves elements of indie rock, folk, funk, blues, hip hop and R&B into an experience journeying from desire to introspection and spiritual epiphany.
José composed the majority of the album while on the road in support of No Beginning No End. During his tour he decided to shift his method of composition to acoustic guitar. The album beautifully showcases James’ knack for weaving strands of various genres into a singular musical experience. “Angel,” the album’s opening track, opens with a wailing guitar riff reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix before launching into a funky ode to the tug of war between carnal desire and the quest for love. The lead single, “EveryLittleThing,” flaunts a rock vibe spiked with an electronica edge and lyrics that come from somewhere deep and personal.
The album’s title track “While You Were Sleeping” ebbs and flows beautifully, ruminating on the end of a love affair. The song culminates in crashing waves of self-reflection and affirmation. “Anywhere U Go” revs up the rock engine once again while “Dragon” finds José melding his distinctive sound with singer-songwriter Becca Stevens. The album closes with a slow-burning cover of the 1972 Al Green classic “Simply Beautiful.” Featuring a smoldering trumpet solo by Blue Note label mate Takuya Kuroda, José was initially wary of including the cover. “I’m not normally a fan of covering great soul legends,” he says. “But I felt like we were doing something musically valid with it, so we decided to record it. That was the only one we did together in one take. And you can feel it.”
U.S. TOUR DATES
June 12 – Highline Ballroom – New York, NY
June 15 – Playboy Jazz Festival @ Hollywood Bowl – Los Angeles, CA
June 18 – SFJAZZ – San Francisco, CA
June 21 – Charline McCombs Empire Theatre – San Antonio, TX
June 22 – Empire Control Room – Austin, TX
June 24 – The Kessler – Dallas, TX
June 25 – Chene Park – Detroit, MI
June 26 – The Pour House – Raleigh, NC
June 28 – Variety Playhouse – Atlanta, GA