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James Blake’s New Album ‘Overgrown’ Defies Bookies To Win 2013 Mercury Prize

Not Laura Mvula, not the Arctic Monkeys, not even David Bowie. But James Blake. For a prize that’s supposed to support up-and-coming artists, you’ve got to admit: that makes sense.

Humbly, Awkwardly, James Blake accepted the potentially life-changing award at the end of last month and, after the ceremony, proceeded to give a series of equally awkward but honest interviews to the press. It shows us the man, in a way. His music is so personal and intimate you might think you’re listening to a close friend as he performs his new stuff for you in the living-room of the flat you’re both renting. Bright lights and applause seem almost to scare him.

The inevitable question of how he felt after winning the award was answered in Blake’s own surreal way. “It’s like one of those dreams you have when you’re punching through water and if you’re lucky you end up punching it right on the nose. And what you thought wasn’t going to happen has happened. It’s very surreal.” And to finish off, “This is the first award I ever won apart from a tennis trophy I won when I was 12 years old. I’ll be putting them on the shelf next to each other.”

And sales of ‘Overgrown’ have gone mad since the announcement at Camden’s Roundhouse, prompting the go-to response that all young artists profess at such times: the prize isn’t going to change him. And if it does, will that matter? Blake himself says his music is ever-morphing, defying classification, so perhaps the fame and opportunity the prize brings will only add texture to his future endeavours. He’s already enlisted the talents of Brian Eno and Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA for tracks on ‘Overgrown’, and that’s done him no harm.

See him live, if you can. That’s when his peculiar sound really soars.

Written by Fab Gorjian

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