All The Colours Of You, the 16th Studio album from “Madchesters” one and only James.
There are not many bands around today who can hand on heart say they have conquered 16 studio albums and a whopping 38 years together. The work this band has produced over the years and their contribution to live music is truly a force to be reckoned with. You may hold close James for many different reasons; for me it’s being the soundtrack to the American Pie era, which makes it all the more exciting to see they’re still part of popular culture and creating narratives on today’s history.
All The Colours Of You is the first album via their new label, Virgin Music Label & Artists Services, and new publishing home Kobalt Music. Described as “An eclectic and poignant offering from one of the UK’s most seminal bands …” CLASH ****
Recorded in part before the world paused for Covid, we see so many different stories in this album that remind us how much we have all been through together. Themes range from politics and race relations to covid and climate change, a topic that is as close to the band as the fires that ravished California were to the band’s frontman Tim Booth doorstep. “We had fires within three miles four miles of our house every week for about three months.”
Amongst the many new starts for the band (Record label and publishing house) the band also brought in Grammy award winning producer Jacknife Lee (U2, REM, Taylor Swift, Snow Patrol, The Killers). James has a history of working with mould-breaking producers such as Brian Eno, Youth, Flood and Markus Dravs, so to bring in Jacknife really elevates the status they have already created within the industry. We know James have not come to fill a void or gap in the “scene” with All The Colours Of You; this is a band who Since the release of Sit Down, their breakthrough single in 1991, have released 15 studio albums, selling over 25 million copies in the process, and performing at countless headline shows and festivals across the world.
The opening track , Zero, the first words out of Tim Booth’s mouth – “We’re all going to die.” Some may take this as doom and gloom but it’s actually extremely freeing, a sort of all in this together feeling, and that’s what this track is all about. Recover, which deals with the death of Tim’s father-in-law from Covid-19, is such a harrowing song, and one that audiences will have a mirrored experience with. It’s a sad and poignant song. “I wouldn’t say I tempered the songs’ themes. You have to meet these things head-on,” says Tim.
A personal favourite from All The Colours Of You is the closing track XYST. The dramatic drum beats, perfectly matched with the band’s beautiful harmonies singing “You’re one of us”, create such an eerie sound, and closing with a lion’s roar there’s a real punk element to it and I just love it. James co-founder and bass player Jim Glennie simply calls the music “massive”. Tracks on this album are among the most arena-ready in James’ 38-year history.
“With their 40th anniversary looming, they’re at a late-period peak; the most moving writing of their career…” MOJO ****
You can catch James on their massive UK tour with special guests Happy Mondays in November and December 2021, and a huge line of festivals including Dreamland, Y Not and Isle of Wight Festival.
Feature photograph by Laura Toomer.