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Friday, May 03, 2013 8:00 PM EDT Doors
Majestic Theatre, Detroit, MI
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It all started, says James Blake, with Joni Mitchell. His favorite singer and songwriter came to see him at the Troubadour in Los Angeles two years ago and hung around afterwards to talk. "She's an oracle," smiles James. "I learned a lot just from meeting her."
What they talked about most was the idea of permanence—how to survive and thrive as an artist. On the flight back to London James wrote "Overgrown", the gently immense song which lends its name to his highly anticipated second album. It’s about the things that last encapsulated in the lyric, "I don't want to be a star but a stone on the shore, a lone doorframe in a war."
"I think it’s the best thing I've ever written, and it's the strongest message on the album," says James. "Joni embodies the things I'm talking about. She was the spark that led to that song."
Musically broad and emotionally deep, Overgrown as big as an advance on James’s eponymous 2011 debut. The growth is similar to the evolution that album evinced from the mercurial dubstep of his early EPs. It also reflects how much the 24-year-old Londoner’s life has changed in the past two years. His debut sold over 400,000 copies — quite a feat for a record so uncompromisingly introspective and experimental. It also picked up Mercury, BRIT and Ivor Novello nominations, sent him around the world on tour, and brought him into contact with a wide array of fans and collaborators that includes not only Mitchell but Jay-Z, Kanye West, Bon Iver, Björk, Drake, Brian Eno, and The RZA.