James Blake wins the Mercury
Blake is the real deal, and a nice big award celebrates that.
James Blake won the Mercury Music Prize for ‘Overgrown’, a record that for him was a big progression that saw him work with Brian Eno and RZA, two completely different artists who bookend the diversity of contemporary music.
Brilliant gigs accompanied the initial buzz of Blake’s debut in indoor venues (remember the plaster falling from the ceiling of Whelans when the bass kicked in?) and big festival stages where Blake proved he could hold any slot going, even if it was mid afternoon outside. ‘Overgrown’ is a complex record and probably the most inverted and moody of the Mercury list, but the modern Mercury has moved away from the bombast of Dizzee, Arctic Monkeys and Franz Ferdinand, and now favours fragility, vulnerability and cerebral music; The xx, Antony Hegarty, PJ Harvey, Alt-J, and now, Blake.
Blake is the real deal. An innovator. He’s making sounds that we’ve never heard before. He’s inventing music. He’s pushing things forward. He’s novel without sacrificing emotion. He takes existing tracks and bends them into shapes we’re seeing just for the first time. His voice is phenomenal. And he’s an incredibly sweet and smart guy who is in this game for the long haul. Congrats to him. As someone who never won the Mercury but should have (twice) once said: let’s push things forward.