Country : United States Label : Rainbow Blonde Genres and styles : Soul/R&B Year : 2020

No Beginning No End 2

· by Parker Mah

As cyclical as the title implies, No Beginning No End 2 is the spiritual successor to the first volume released on Blue Note records back in 2013. This first album of (mostly) original music on Rainbow Blonde records, the label he founded with singer/partner Talia “Taali” Billig, inherits James’ smoldering vocals and thematic fortes: love, attraction, and boundaries. He is also surrounded by top-flight jazz musicians – Kris Bowers and Jamire Williams, among others – and has rounded up an impressive array of guest artists such as Hindi Zahra, Aloe Blacc and Laura Mvula. The overall sound is less jazz-edged than its predecessor, and at times casually veers into straighter pop territory – his cover of Billy Joel’s saccharine “Just The Way You Are” doesn’t quite break loose – but those moments are buttressed by a few strong mid-tempo burners. “I Need Your Love”, a duo with Ledisi, stands out, with its perfectly taut groove and slightly-behind-the-beat piano jabs. A solid album overall, but not on par with the entrancing masterpiece that was No Beginning No End – although that would be a tall task, even for James.

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