Track Review: James Cherry: Post Code

‘Offering reflective lyricism and urgent-sounding musicality, it’s exactly how soul with a 21st-century twist should be!’

Intro to James Cherry
Releasing the powerful, soulfully stirring ‘Why Don’t You Listen?’ in 2016, singer-songwriter James Cherry had a musical point to prove. That point was that soul can sound like it used to but sound up to the moment at the same time. Point safely proven. However, with the contrasting atmospheres of ‘Break Somebody’ (2016)
and ‘Hold On’ (2017) it was clear James had the sub-genres covered too. So, with it being two years since his last original release it would be fair to say expectation is high. However, in what is almost a nod to that trio of previous tracks, Post Code delivers more at every turn.

Track Review
Immediately soulful, a wondrous mix of harmonised vowel sounds, sustained chords and true vocals eases us into James’s latest offering. Feeling completely relaxed and effortless, it’s a beautiful beginning. Likewise, with the lyrics giving off both literal and inferred reflectiveness through lines such as ‘What happened to the old me?’ and ‘Bed-bound, trapped in this Post Code’ it makes for an enticing opening verse. There is however a real air of confidence, which in guiding us to the chorus is both complementary, yet highly contrasting.

Joining the soulful elements of what have just been, on arriving at the chorus for the first time, the restrained musicality bursts into a myriad of ideas. Remaining chord-based, but with the addition of dominating bass and electro drums, the atmosphere is completely transformed. It sounds urgent. It sounds stylishly hectic. And most importantly, it sounds exactly how soul with a 21st-century twist should. Equally, with the gravel in James’s vocal growing, but remaining carefully controlled, it works perfectly with the surroundings.

Retaining the more dominating sound that has been established, moving through, the depth of the track continues to bring new energy and musicality. Balancing heavier textures and inferred space, the combination of pulsating guitar and subtly softer drums makes the track appear to come to life even more than the initial transformation. There is indeed great interest and with call and response vocals delivering even more, phrases like ‘stepped out into the great unknown’ and ‘blood, sweat and tears’ get enhanced in an incredibly stylish way. 

Hitting the chorus for a second time, the former sound returns and now feeling familiar, hints of an ‘arms in the air and sway’ stadium-style atmosphere begin to emerge. However, while the sense of familiarity is there, this is to change with the developing sound of the cleverly crafted two-part bridge which is soon to follow.

Initially keeping the sense of momentum, the first half sees arpeggiated synths dance around while we are subliminally drawn to James as he slips faultlessly into his falsetto. Taking this a stage further, our attention remains on the vocal and with the opening vowel sounds returning – to be accompanied by finger clicks – it’s a rare, surprisingly intimate moment. But the intimacy isn’t to last long.

Signalling a final resurgence, the appearance of heavily echoing, multi-tracked ‘ay-oe’ centred vocals take us back to the dominance. This time though, the sound of the chorus is to be different, and much more complex than before. Yes, as you would expect there is more than an edge of familiarity, but, with the instrumental power continually pushing and multiple earwormy lyrics interweaving, you feel like you’ve travelled a long way from the postcode you started in. Go on, get out there and explore a new Post Code today.

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James Cherry is part of Listen to Discover’s #FridayFindsFeaturedArtist series which you can keep up to date with on Twitter and Facebook.

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