James Blake displays absolute devotion on single ‘You’re Too Precious’

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Grade: 3.5/5.0

From the sound of his newest music, it’s apparent that James Blake has come out of the ether. Blake’s meticulous early music style resulted in powerful confessionals such as “Limit to Your Love” and “Retrograde,” vividly abstract, atmospheric songs that are equal parts electronic and soulful. On last year’s Assume Form, the singer and multi-instrumentalist presented himself at his most transparent, with his music vastly transformed by the emergence of a new love in his life. Blake’s newest single, “You’re Too Precious,” continues this evolution, melding together alluring ambience with his most emotionally honest songwriting to date.

Released April 24, “You’re Too Precious” was written and produced in collaboration with Dominic Maker of Mount Kimbie. Similar to his previous single, “If The Car Beside You Moves Ahead,” “You’re Too Precious” is built upon a looping melody with heavy vocal manipulation and glitchy-sounding production as Blake muses over a deepening relationship with a genuine display of devotion. “After a certain amount of time, somebody becomes too precious to lose,” Blake said of the song’s subject when speaking to Apple Music. “And now you want to protect them in any way you can.”

The track opens with the repeating of gentle piano keys and a muffled, distorted falsetto, establishing a cyclical groove that draws the listener in further as the song progresses. As Blake’s fluttering vocals come into focus, the song’s mantra is introduced. “So, so now, no, so now, so now/ You’re too, you’re too precious, precious,” he cries softly, as the warbling production coating his voice rolls over the natural flow of piano. Just as all the elements begin to come together, the track is swept up by the clacking percussion of castanets. The atmosphere created is dreamy and tender, like a waltz under the light of the moon, with the gentle rhythm forming the song’s delicate heartbeat and instilling the track with a sense of longing.

Lyrically, “You’re Too Precious” finds Blake deeply committed to his love. “I’d take the calls you don’t want to/ I’d take the hair in your food,” he calls out, willing to take the load off his partner’s shoulders in any way he can. This is Blake at his most lyrically direct, volunteering himself fully. “I’ll be your bubble/ I’ll make myself useful,” he offers, wishing to provide gentle solace. Although the lyrics are minimal, the song’s sentiment is poignant. Blake’s devotion is so palpable that it borders on desperation. At times, it feels as if Blake is singing to the perfect, ideal version of his partner, the reality of his love lost in the dreamy haze.

Ultimately, the song effectively showcases Blake’s unmatched ability to create atmosphere and capture mood. Although he borders on overbearing with his unyielding admiration of his partner, the song is overflowing with genuine devotion. Gone is the mystery and abstraction of his previous work, replaced with his heart on his sleeve, for better and for worse. Blake is caught up in his own dream of love; on “You’re Too Precious,” he invites anyone and everyone to come and see.

Contact Vincent Tran at [email protected].