James Blake continues to straddle the worlds of electronic pop and experimental electronics. His 2020 singles so far illustrate that balance: Whereas Blake wrote April’s “You’re Too Precious” with Mount Kimbie’s Dominic Maker, his close collaborator on last year’s Assume Form, he crafted his next offering with a pair of industry songwriters whose previous collabs include Camila Cabello’s #1 hit “Havana.”
Blake penned new song “Are You Even Real?” with Starrah (who also cowrote Maroon 5 and Cardi B’s chart-topper “Girls Like You”) and Ali Tamposi (who, as long as we’re talking #1 hits, had a hand in Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger” and Cabello and Shawn Mendes’ “Señorita”). These are full-fledged participants in the mainstream songwriting machine. It’s a world Blake has previously entered via his work with A-listers like Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar, but rarely if ever has he explored it as a lead artist.
So “Are You Even Real?” is a kind of experiment, even if it represents Blake wandering far from his experimental roots. In practice, though, it’s not so different from much of Assume Form’s lovestruck reverie. The violin work from Peter Lee Johnson is an especially lovely touch. Have a listen below.
There’s also a new Apple commercial featuring Blake working on this song:
“Are You Even Real?” is out now on Republic.