"Overgrown," James Blake's second album, earned the U.K.'s Mercury Prize in October, trumping albums by more high-profile British artists like David Bowie and the Arctic Monkeys. The experimental electronic singer/producer will try to repeat that surprise success at the GRAMMY Awards®, where he is this year's only best new artist nominee without an album that has entered the Top 10 of the Billboard 200 chart ("Overgrown" peaked at No. 32 upon its release last April).
BILLBOARD CHART HIGHLIGHTS
|January 15, 2011: "Limit To Your Love" climbs to No. 3 on the Dance Singles Sales chart.
February 26, 2011: "James Blake" debuts at No. 1 on the Heatseekers Albums chart.
October 22, 2011: "Enough Thunder" EP starts at No. 9 on the Dance/Electronic Albums chart.
April 27, 2013: "Overgrown" debuts at its No. 32 peak on the Billboard 200.
April 27, 2013: "Overgrown" debuts at No. 1 on the Dance/Electronic Albums tally.
The 25-year-old London-born musician is hardly a new artist in the indie world -- after Blake released a series of buzzy EPs in 2010, his self-titled 2011 debut was lauded for its use of moving vocal work and ephemeral production. "James Blake" included a moving cover of Feist's "Limit To Your Love," while the album's second single, "The Wilhelm Scream," was featured on HBO's "Entourage" and was sampled by rapper Big K.R.I.T.
For "Overgrown," Blake expanded his sound with more straightforward soul refrains, and had guest appearances by Brian Eno and RZA. Blake supported the album with performances at Coachella and Primavera Sound festival, and ran through a headlining tour last fall. In his downtime, the songwriter teamed up with rising MC Chance The Rapper for a remix of the "Overgrown" cut "Life Round Here," and worked with Drake on the rapper's recent song "Come Thru."
For his own sanity, Blake has booked some time off in 2014. "I've been solid for the last three to four years now," he told Billboard last fall. "It's good torment that kind of comes out, but it's still work. It didn't really feel like I got a mental break for a long time."