James Blake got his start as a producer of sparse, architectural electronic music, and that’s still how a lot of us think of him. But these days, Blake is something like a pop star, and he’s definitely a hell of a singer. Last night, as the musical guest on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Jimmy Blake showed off just how good a performer he can be when you take the sparse, architectural electronic music off the table completely.
Blake was on the show to sing “Are You In Love?,” one of the moody and lovestruck ballads from Assume Form, the album he released earlier this year. On record, “Are You In Love?” is prime Blake, full of synthetic pings and whooshes. But onstage last night, Blake sang it accompanied only by a watery electric guitar and his own fingersnaps. And he really sang it, creaking out some huge emotional notes by the end. It turns out that “Are You In Love?” still works when you strip away the bells and whistles.
Blake never really does much onstage, and his live shows can suffer for it. But on the Kimmel stage, he did a lot with a little. Blake stood stock-still in the middle of the stage, looking all tall and handsome in his flowery shirt, and just sang wonderfully. He should stand up more often! Stop slouching! Watch the performance below.
Assume Form is out now on Republic/Polydor.