Switched On – James Alexander Bright: Float (!K7)

reviewed by Ben Hogwood

What’s the story?

A second album for James Alexander Bright, recorded in the Hampshire countryside over the past year. It is a team effort, with guest slots from the vocalist Fink, drummer Feiertag, vocalist Kerry Leathem and a number of close contacts, including manager Benjamin Smith, who plays bass on the longer closing track to the album, Be Strong.

What’s the music like?

If ever an album sang “SUMMER” at you, then it’s this one. Bright has a lovely voice, creamy in tone and warm in its delivery, not a million miles from Yannis Philippakis of Foals. Sometimes the rhythms he uses are not far from that band either, especially the edgy, tripped up beats of Soul.

Yet those similarities are coincidental, for Bright secures a very different mood, blissful in its countenance. This is poolside listening of the best kind, with songs that are dreamy but well written, lovingly crafted guitar lines seeing them on their way.

The rhythms are fresh and inventive, with a kind of light bossa nova accompanying Drink This Water. Warmth courses through the whole set of songs, with even a title such as Ice Cold bathing in lovely warm keyboard sounds.

The instrumentals reinforce the hot temperatures. Grow presents a lovely warm weather image of the ebbing of a tide, or the distant sound of bells, through its intricate synth work.Shepherd has a woozy, drowsy feel to it, with an absent minded guitar adding contented comments to a firmer beat almost of deep house origins.

Perhaps the best moment is a collaboration with Fink, the two voice types complementing each other for Sundown, and its vocal couplet “I can see it working out”. It is complemented by the closing Be Strong, an extended piece that is simultaneously urgent (rhythm) and extremely chilled (keys)

Does it all work?

It does – and Float has the ideal proportions and mood structure to boot.

Is it recommended?

Yes. The current hot spell in James’s home country is to his distinct advantage, for Float works a treat with the doors and windows thrown open, or accompanying a poolside reverie. Add it to your collection!



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