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Sunday, Apr 20, 2014 7:30 PM CDT (6:30 PM Doors)
José James with Kris Bowers
Sunday, Apr 20, 2014 7:30 PM CDT
SPACE, Evanston, IL
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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. “As an artist, I’m going to keep evolving,” he says resolutely. “I think my fans have now come to expect this from me. They want to know what I’m going to do next.”
“I really wanted to make a wide open album that people could come into from a lot of different perspectives,” he continues. “This album is a synthesis of everything I love about music, from contemporary artists like Frank Ocean, James Blake, and Junip to groundbreaking artists I grew up with like Nirvana, Radiohead, and Madlib. It’s also a love letter to many late nights spent in East London clubs like Plastic People and Cargo, watching new movements unfold in electronic music. I want people to feel the joy of discovery that I experience night after night onstage, reaching for something new.”
Along with producer Brian Bender and his tight-knit band – Kris Bowers (keys), Solomon Dorsey (bass), and Richard Spaven (drums) – José set out to create an album that captured the spirit of his newfound creative space. In the studio the band members recalibrated their roles, serving as co-producers for his latest forays in sound. “They really went in on the creative ideas, taking it to a new place. I definitely had the artistic vision. It’s still a José James album. But for the first time, I let the band have more of a voice.” José’s decision to have all hands on deck resulted in a more cohesive band unit. “It got me a lot closer to them as well. It’s really about us sharing our musical worlds. The band is super tight now. I think it’s one of the most special bands that I’ve ever had.”
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. “I really loved the way it meshed with my voice,” he says. “It made me realize that I hadn’t been tapping into other influences that I had within me.”
José also recruited a new band member in Memphis guitarist Brad Allen Williams to shore up the ideas he’d been mulling for the new album. Williams brought a rock feel while maintaining his home city’s signature soul and blues. “He’s amazing. He’s a perfect fit for this new direction. There’s definitely a lot more rock elements on this record because of Brad, but the soul connection is also important to me. I never want to go too far away from soul.”