James Bay Leap | Bad times turned into hopeful music
James Bay was going through a dark time. To combat anxiety, fear and mistrust, he set about writing his new album, Leap. A healing experience that takes us into the most personal James Bay with uplifting songs, full of hope.
Reading Time | 3 min
Listening Time | 10 min
James Bay Give me a reason
The path to Leap | James Bay biography
James Michael Bay was born in England on 4 September 1990, where he grew up with his older brother Alex, who is also a musician.
- At the age of 11, after hearing Eric Clapton’s ‘Layla‘, he asked his father to have a Spanish classical guitar he had left in the cupboard repaired and began to play the instrument self-taught 🎸
- At the age of 14 he started performing with his brother, forming his first band, The Jet Kings.
- At the age of 16, he got his first job in a bar where he played to calm the customers 🚱
When he came of age, he moved to Brighton to take guitar lessons and experience the city’s music scene.
- He would often play gigs to a devoted audience who advised him to move to London for more opportunities in music. He did so in 2012.
One night while performing in a restaurant, an audience member who was a video editor recorded him and agreed with James to post a video clip of his ballad ‘Move Together’ on YouTube.
- As a result, two months later he was discovered by a talent scout from Republic Records, with whom he signed his first record deal.
Thus, in 2013 James Bay released his first EP, ‘The Dark of the Morning‘. It wasn’t a great success, but Bay toured the US and UK, even opening for the Rolling Stones in London’s Hyde Park.
In 2014, Bay released his second EP, ‘Let It Go‘, which sold over 1 million copies and garnered 3 Grammy nominations.
- He would soon release his third EP, ‘Hold Back the River’, along with a single of the same name, which would go on to be one of the UK’s biggest selling tracks of the 2010s.
James Bay’s debut album, ‘Chaos and the Calm‘, was inspired by the changes in his life due to fame and his partner. It went straight to No.1 in the UK taking Bay on an international tour where he would open for Taylor Swift.
His 2nd album, Electric Light, was released in 2018, with the single ‘Wild Love‘. It also achieved a fair amount of popularity.
- Just a year later, in 2019, he would drop a new EP, ‘Oh My Messy Mind‘, only on streaming.
Despite his success, James Bay felt lost, caught in a spiral of negative thoughts, which led him to write an album full of sad songs. Because of the pandemic, he did not release it. During this period, he read a book by John Burrough that talks about daring to jump without fear, because there will always be a net to protect us in the fall 🥅
- As James himself explains, his safety net is the people around him who love and protect him, including his partner Lucy Smith, a music promoter he has been dating since he was 17.
- From that thought he began to compose new songs, this time of hope and love, which would be the germ of his 3rd album, ‘Leap‘.
The joy would continue for James Bay as in 2021 he had his first daughter, Ada Violet Bay, marrying his girlfriend Lucy shortly after.
James Bay Leap | His most personal album
James Bay’s new album ‘Leap‘ is a warm hug from someone who knows what you’re going through and can show you the way out.
For the first time, after the single ‘Chew On My Heart’, which he dropped in 2020 and is also included on the Deluxe version of Leap, James opens his heart and tells what he feels inside. James explained on the release of the single:
It’s an outpouring of love, and that’s a huge theme across this new music. When I come home from tour, I burst through the door and throw my arms around my girl, and she’ll just say, ‘Okay, relax, cool’. It’s cheesy, but I wrote it from that perspective. It’s the opposite of being guarded
This is the story of every song on Leap:
- Give me the reason: The first track on the album is our favourite. Bay explains the feeling of being about to let someone go, while looking for any excuse to give them another chance.
- Nowhere Left To Go: It’s a declaration of love raised to the nth degree. James can’t make logical sense of so much love.
- Save Your Love: James sings to a person who is with the wrong partner, asking them to take notice and save their love for someone who truly deserves it 🥰
- Everybody Needs Someone: This is one of Bay’s favourite songs. He wrote it when he was feeling lost and alone. A feeling that came to him like a silent tidal wave. Thanks to the people closest to him in his life, he got through it, because everybody needs somebody.
- One Life: The world is big and bustling, but life between 2 is small and delightful. That’s what it feels like when he sings “oh oh oh oh oh oh” in the chorus. You won’t be able to get it out of your head.
- Silent Love: James Bay confesses love for a person, which he thought was obvious, but would never happen.
- Love Don’t Hate Me: This track flirts with despair but ends up celebrating perseverance.
- Brilliant Still: With a catchy chorus, Bay makes a cry for loving yourself. Perhaps the most positive song on the album 👍
- Right Now: It is the time to tell the people closest to you that you love them. So sings James in ‘Right Now‘.
- We Used To Shine: With a dizzying rock’n’roll sound, the song takes us back to a relationship in the doldrums, which Bay wants to fight to bring back to the good old days.
- Endless Summer Nights: Another of our favorites. Upbeat and playful, the song tells of a night of passion, near the beach, making love to your partner on a night you don’t want to end.
- Better: “I’m still not sure who I’m supposed to be,” Bay says over his acoustic guitar before talking about fear, his childhood traumas, anxiety and how love got him through it all.
Musically, the album is not a leap in James Bay’s songwriting, mainly because it doesn’t need to be, but in the stories he tells, there is a breakthrough towards a more poignant and confident James who is willing to tell us what’s inside him.