Album Review: James Bay’s ‘Electric Light’

  • Variety
Album Review: James Bay’s ‘Electric Light’
It’s been four years since the square-jawed, pork pie hat-wearing James Bay sprung the earnest-but-hip shaking gospel rock of “Hold Back the River.” Or in pop terms, an eternity. Just ask those pining for the return of Ireland’s own holy rolling Hozier — his bruised baritone was last heard in 2014 when the cascading “Take Me to Church” became a certifiable smash.

Bay was Hozier’s opening act then. A Brit who looked like Johnny Depp in “Benny & Joon,” he came on quietly and gangly, stooped over a strummed-hard acoustic guitar, and wound up outpacing the headliner with ardent, folksy romanticism. For that silty sound and stance, he eventually won over the U.K. and U.S. music execs with his troubadour’s warble and earthiness. His 2015 debut album, “Chaos and the Calm,” became the rustic antidote to Ed Sheeran, what with Bay’s rough-shod, intimate intertwining of blues,
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