Jacob Collier is one of those blokes who’s been around for years and years, building steam outside the critical conversation, forging relationships across the music industry. He first came to fame as a North London teenager posting splitscreen covers on YouTube in 2012. Now 25, he’s become the kind of unstoppable force who can tour the world behind a four-part, 50-song album he’s releasing over the course of two or three years. That project is called Djesse, and today — on the heels of contributing to Coldplay’s Everyday Life — he’s beginning to roll out the third volume.
The four volumes of Djesse supposedly represent the four phases of the day. They present Collier’s omnivorous ethos, which brings together elements of classical, funk, jazz, folk, soul, hip-hop, and alternative rock among other traditions. He really goes out of his way to cast a wide net, but not at the expense of coherence.
Vol. 1, released last December, involved contributions from Laura Mvula, Voces8, Hamid El Kasri, Take 6, and Collier’s mother, Suzie, and featured a Police cover. Vol. 2, which dropped back in July, boasted a “Here Comes The Sun” cover and even more collaborators: Sam Amidon, Becca Stevens, Chris Thile, Lianne La Havas, Dodie Clark, Oumou Sangaré, Kathryn Tickell, and — oh yeah — a version of “Moon River” featuring more than 140 voices including Chris Martin, Charlie Puth, Tori Kelly, David Crosby, Kimbra, Daniel Caesar, Merrill Garbus, JoJo, Darwin Deez, Herbie Hancock, Quincy Jones, Hans Zimmer, Steve Vai, Ty Dolla $ign, and Tom Misch. (Collier solicited recordings of artists’ voices and then stitched them together into a divine-sounding choral arrangement.)
The lead single from Vol. 3 finds him once again teaming with Caesar, the young Grammy-beloved R&B singer. (Speaking of which, Collier himself earned multiple Grammy nods for the first two Djesse LPs.) “Time Alone With You” is a lovely hip-hop soul track that does wondrous things with vocal manipulation, surprise brass flourishes, and a heavy groove. It’s not the wheel reinvention you might expect; rather, it’s a prodigious musician showing off.
Djesse Vol. 3 is coming sometime in 2020 via Hajanga/Decca/Geffen.