Home Read Albums Of The Week: James Bay | Leap

Albums Of The Week: James Bay | Leap

The British balladeer writes his way out of the pandemic blues with this set of soaring anthems — and with the assitance of an all-star cast of producers and collaborators.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “For his third full-length album Leap, award-winning multi-platinum singer-songwriter, producer and guitarist James Bay worked with some of the most sought-after producers and songwriters in Nashville and London — including Dave Cobb (Brandi Carlile, Chris Stapleton, Lady Gaga), Ian Fitchuk (Kacey Musgraves, Brett Eldredge), Foy Vance (Ed Sheeran), Joel Little (Lorde, Taylor Swift) and Finneas (Billie Eilish, The Knocks).

Leap is an open-hearted and hopeful collection of songs dedicated to the people closest to him, and finds Bay taking bold creative risks, pushing emotional boundaries, and embracing the unknown. To announce the album and this next chapter, Bay shared a powerful letter on social media where he talks about his mental health journey towards the making of this next body of work:

“In 2019 I was really struggling,” he writes. “I started writing songs to try and help me deal with fear, anxiety and problems with self-confidence. Feelings that run deep, that I’ve never wanted to share. Somehow, it all turned into some of the most hopeful and uplifting music I have ever made. I didn’t realize I was only halfway through making my third album when I came across John Burroughs’ quote ‘leap and the net will appear.’ It was in a book about creative rediscovery and those words really sparked something in me. I was reading it because I was lost, feeling worthless.

Photo by Julian Broad.

“By 2020 I’d written a new batch of sad songs. I recorded them and thought the record was done. Then suddenly the world shut down and I couldn’t tour my new music. All I could do was stay home and write more. That’s when the album really started to take shape. It turns out there is light to be found even in the darkest moments.

“I spend a lot of time (too much time) tangled up in negative thoughts. It’s so easy to spiral. But during all that extra time writing, I decided to embrace my sadness rather than fight it and I began to recognize what lifts me up when things get tough. Suddenly I was pushing the boundaries of my writing in ways I never had before. I looked around at the people in my life that love and care about me the most and for the first time ever, I found a way to write from that emotion. I’ve always been afraid to go to those places, be that vulnerable; to say I love you, I need you and thank you in my writing. It was so freeing to celebrate those people in my life that I love the most, that hold me up when I really need it. They’re the ones who give me the courage to go for it, to dare. When I can’t see the net, they give me the courage to leap.”

The preview single entitled One Life was accompanied by a note about the inspiration behind the song — his longtime girlfriend. “This is a song I wrote about me and Lucy. We first got together at 16 and have been together ever since. She’s supported me since Day 1. From open-mic nights right through to my biggest shows. It’s been one adventure after another, but now we’re on the biggest one of all. Raising our beautiful daughter Ada.”