“James Morrison was one of the first UK artists I looked to when I was becoming a singer myself.
His voice is simply incredible. I’m actually not sure, even with all his success, he’s ever had the full credit for his talent.” - John Newman
“James is one of my earliest inspirations. Amongst everything that was going on in pop music, to suddenly hear a voice that delicate, that soulful and that powerful behind just an acoustic guitar was everything I'd been waiting for.” - James Bay
Having spent the last four years away from the limelight, and following the release of his new single ‘Demons’ last Thursday, James Morrison makes a welcome return with his fourth studio album ‘Higher Than Here’, out 30th October through Island Records.
The songs on the new album create a subtle balance between revealing the pain and difficulties that Morrison has experienced in his recent personal life, and the soundtrack to those lazy Sunday mornings that, will make you dance, smile and reflect.
Album opener and lead single ‘Demons’ sets the scene; The rousing track, written about resisting the little voices in your head trying to take you down, has Morrison’s signature soulful vocal over a high pitched loop that altogether makes for a rich, uplifting and contemporary sound. Elsewhere, further standout songs include ballads, ‘Stay Like This’ and ‘Too Late For Lullabies’ which are reminiscent of Morrison’s much loved sound but with a touch of American gospel. Beyond the more familiar are tracks like ‘I Need You Tonight’, easily the most unexpected track on the album; it’s big, ballsy and potentially his first dance floor smash.
James was recently given an amazing welcome back when he played his first live shows since 2011 - Two nights at Wilton’s Music Hall and one night at the Tabernacle in London - where he debuted some of his forthcoming new tracks, and all of which sold out in a matter of seconds. The Evening Standard agreed that James was back at his best, calling his return the “uplifting comeback of a spirited soul man”.
When James broke onto the scene as a soulful singer-songwriter in 2006, even he couldn’t have predicted that he would become the template that allowed a wave of likeminded musicians to enter the field. He was also famously told by the veteran soul producer Jerry Wexler that his raspy, gravelly voice, the product of a childhood illness, had its "own thumbprint" and was so distinctive that “once heard, never forgotten”. Now, almost a decade on, Ed Sheeran, George Ezra and James Bay are all ruling the charts following the same format; one guy with just a guitar and an incredible voice.
Despite his self-deprecation and humble nature, he was the first to take that format and not only make it work but also became an overnight success story. Pop gems like ‘You Give Me Something’ from his first record ‘Undiscovered’, made him anything but, and he won the 2007 BRIT Award for Best Male when he was still just 21 years old.
James has gone on to sell over 4.5 million copies of his first three albums, performed four world tours including sold-out shows to thousands at London’s Hyde Park, supporting both Bruce Springsteen and Stevie Wonder and appeared on Herbie Hancock’s Grammy-winning album ‘The Imagination Project’.
2008’s ‘Songs for You, Truths for Me’ brought with it a string of Top Ten singles, including the phenomenally catchy ‘Broken Strings’ with Nelly Furtado, with his last album, 2011’s ‘Awakening’ shooting straight to Number One, selling over one million copies worldwide. By going back to where he started James has created a collection of his most honest, powerful, insightful and triumphant songs to date, best summed-up in the chorus to the lead single from his new album:
‘I’ve got demons trying to get to me…But they’ll never take me down’