exploded onto the scene in 2015 with the release of his debut album Chaos And The Calm
and, if you're anything like me, you've probably heard "Hold Back The River" enough times to openly welcome the river. Thankfully, Bay has changed tack with the release of his new single "Wild Love".
Gone are the long, flowing locks and the hat which appeared soldered to his head. Now Bay is keen to break free of his "guy-with-a-guitar" image. It's not just a physical change though, Bay is eager to expand his sound and push beyond the boundaries of what he's released so far. It's been three years since his debut arrived in 2015, and "Wild Love" is the first new track we've heard since then.
The shift in musical direction is immediately apparent from the muted role of Bay's guitar in the opening moments of the song. It continues to serve as a bit-part player throughout, save for a neat little guitar line in the bridge. Instead we hear influences from the music Bay has cited as inspiring his new record - Chance The Rapper, Drake, Frank Ocean. Certainly, this track tends toward contemporary R&B far more than any of his previous work, with synths and clapping drums driving the song.
It's a real departure for Bay, who's shown a refreshing amount of self-awareness in this decision to expand his musical horizons. Speaking in interviews he's declared his confidence in the new material, calling it "diverse and eclectic", and "Wild Love" definitely signals a step in the right direction.
Also watch our interview with James Bay: