James Bay

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About James Bay

Everything about James Bay comes from the heart, starting with his quivering, emotional singing on 2014’s breakthrough power ballad “Hold Back the River.” Raised in the English town of Hitchin, the singer/songwriter (born James Michael Bay in 1990) began learning guitar at age 11 before moving to Brighton at 18 to study classical guitar while developing his live chops on the open-mic circuit. Even after opening for Taylor Swift on her 1989 tour, Bay appeared no less humble. That everyman sincerity shapes the organic, gospel-like builds that mark his 2015 debut album, Chaos and the Calm, as well as 2018’s stylistically ambitious Electric Light. “I’ve pushed my own boundaries and explored sounds I hadn’t touched on in the past,” he told Apple Music. Produced by Paul Epworth (Adele, Rihanna), that far-reaching second album takes inspiration from rock contemporaries like The Black Keys and The War on Drugs while adding beaming synths and hip-hop-style skits. Yet when the record closes with a passage from Allen Ginsberg’s love poem “Song,” it’s clear we’re still hearing the sensitive soul who has built his brand on meaningful songcraft.

Hitchin, Hertfordshire, England
September 4, 1990
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