James Bay // Hold Back the River [EP Review]

James Bay has had an eventful year.  From traveling across the US opening for the likes on Hozier, releasing two EPS, among many other things.  

The young Hitchin, UK lad just released his second EP this year titled Hold Back the River. The EP contains 4 tracks, including one live track.  The EP has received much recognition already in the UK, so much so that ‘Hold Back the River’ was nominated for Record of the Year by Zane Lowe on the BBC. He’s also been getting love from other large music supporters like MTV and VH1. 

James Bay has been making his music known since 2013, pushing out hit after hit.  The first tune I heard of James was “Move Together,” off his first EP The Dark of the Morning.  I was instantly impressed by James emotional vocals and extremely honest lyrics.  His songs give a little storytelling into relationships and experiences, in a way that we can all find connections to.  His lyrics give a sense of telling a story, while also giving the emotional thoughts behind the moments.  This allows listeners to really create unique imagery in their minds while listening.     Lyrics aside, his music mixes a unique spin of pop, rock aspects, and at times a little bit of blues (as heard in tracks like ‘Sparks’).

The Dark of the Morning was the first we heard from James.  Given that impressive first effort continued to opened up the door for something even better as the months went on. Earlier this year we got more of a taste of his music with his next EP Let It Go (not a Frozen cover, don’t worry).  Which gave us more impressive tunes like “Let It Go” and “If You Ever Want to Be In Love.”  

Now James offers us his newest effort Hold Back the River.  Another impressive piece that’s been getting more attention since it’s release. This EP gives a little more roundabout view to James music.  The songs might not be quite as upbeat, but it shows a more impressive band side to his music, than the more solo focused efforts of previous EPs.  Leaves me waiting in anticipation of what’s next for James Bay.

Tracklist:
Hold Back the River
Sparks
Wait in Line
Hold Back the River (Live)

Carolyn Lederach

Philadelphia, PA