The acclaimed James Bay has sustained quite a ride over the last decade. Earning a Grammy nomination for his 2014 debut album Chaos and the Calm, in 2018 he released the solid follow Electric Light. The latter, a mix of sounds where no two tracks sounded the same, the question many fans pondered was, where would Bay turn for his third album? Those answers lay within Leap, his third overall studio album released on July 8, 2022 through Mercury and Republic Records.
A collection of songs four years in the making, the actual full album was preceded by three singles – “Give Me the Reason,” “One Life,” and “Everybody Needs Someone.” Each unique to one another, the album itself consists of songs that seem to unify Bay’s signature tone from Chaos and the Calm with the diversity of Electric Light. It all begins with the single “Give Me The Reason” pouring out a ton of emotion that is matched with some very catchy melodies. From here you have the heartfelt “Nowhere Left To Go,” the cool, yet mellow “Save Your Love,” but also the soulful “Everybody Needs Somebody” which sticks out thanks to a powerful chorus.
Keeping the mood smooth, “One Life” is followed by acoustic laden “Silent Love” and tight groove of “Love Don’t Hate Me.” Then Bay brings back the softer tones with “Brilliant Still” opening leading to a chorus which comes blasting right at you in full force. This is before the breathy, relaxed “Right Now” where Bay showcases his ability to reach higher vocal pitches with ease. And if you are looking for some nostalgia offers, “We Used To Shine” might be just what you are looking for. Featuring a vocal line that is easy to remember, it is a song to sit back and remember the days of the past, reflect on mistakes, inspiring you to go out and do it better.
Which leads us to the tail end of the record which has the big sounding “Endless Summer Nights,” beautiful guitar tone of “Better” which will make your heart melt, and bonus cut “Chew On My Heart” where Bay lays it all on the table with his voice.
Overall, Leap is filled with lots of emotions and lyrics that everyone will be able relate with. It features strong arrangements, strong vocals, and is a strong follow up to Electric Light. In fact, some might say it shows that Bay took what he learned from the writing and recording of Electric Light and made all the right improvements. Natural, down to earth, and straight from the heart, Cryptic Rock gives Leap 4 out of 5 stars.