Multiple Brit award winner James Bay admits exploring emotional vulnerability in his new material is a ‘scary’ experience.
The 31-year-old says he hid ‘behind the curtain’ of big guitar sounds for many years.
Now he is ready to look at heartache from a different perspective with a lyrical leap of faith.
He will unveil that lyrical rawness in his first ever performance in Aberdeen.
Chart-topper James will headline The Beach Ballroom in the Granite City on Thursday and will unveil tracks from his new album.
His single One Life from the album is set for release on Friday.
Another taster of the album, Give Me The Reason, was unveiled earlier this year.
James said: “Give Me The Reason is a song about losing a friend. There were no fatalities, we just fell out.
“We have a rich history together with our friendship, but it has all gone sour.
“I had to write a song to say give me one reason to keep connected to you and I will do it.
“Because we can’t let all this history slip away.
“That’s a bolder place of vulnerability than I felt I was never able to go to before in my writing.
“That is a boundary very much pushed for me in this new music.”
Showing people behind the curtain
James broke through in 2015 with debut album Chaos And The Calm
The worldwide smash hit earned three Grammy nominations – for Best New Artist, Best Rock Album, and Best Rock Song.
In 2016 he secured a Brit award and also landed an Ivor Novello going.
It was James’ second Brit, having scooped the Critics’ Award the previous year.
Despite years of success, James admits being so open lyrically in the new album was daunting.
He said: “When you go to those places lyrically that’s when you are revealing yourself and showing people behind the curtain.
“I found that it’s scary, ultimately.
“It’s a scary place to go to because it’s very easy to hide behind a massive guitar sound and a synthesizer.
“It’s easy to hide and have fun at the same time – and I’ve done that.
“But now I’m baring a little bit more of what’s inside emotionally on this new music.
“Lyrically, I don’t feel as though I have ever been as vulnerable as I have on this album.
“I have written about some of the positive things in my life but came at it from different corners and angles of heartbreak.
“More than I have ever been willing to go to before.”
Recording in legendary studio
A release date is yet to be confirmed for the completed new album.
James recorded tracks at the legendary RCA Studio A in Nashville, Tennessee.
He said: “We were in studio A and studio B is historic as it is the little room Elvis recorded a lot of his big singles in.
“When I was in Studio A I asked our producer Dave Cobb what had been recorded in there.
“He said in one afternoon in the seventies in that room Dolly Parton recorded Jolene and I Will Always Love You.
“I thought ‘no pressure then’.
“From the second week we were in Nashville to the fifth, Covid was becoming more of a reality and lots of places were just shutting.
“So we got closed up in the studio and kept working. Strange times.”
One Life is a song I wrote about the most precious and private part of my life, my relationship with Lucy. I didn’t know if I’d be able to sum it all up in one song, I’m still not sure I ever will, but this one feels like it got close. pic.twitter.com/8KSCULU9DQ
— James Bay (@JamesBayMusic) May 10, 2022
James excited at Aberdeen debut
James will perform in Aberdeen for the first time on Thursday but he has recently played in Scotland.
He performed at the Oran Mor in Glasgow in February as part of his New Songs New Stories solo tour across the UK in support of Independent Venue Week.
He said: “The exciting thing is that I have never played Aberdeen before.
“People have spoken very highly of Aberdeen so I can’t wait.
“Playing the Oran Mor was brilliant but there is such a low ceiling in that venue.
“Every time I threw the guitar up above my head I smacked it on the ceiling.
“The guitars are okay so don’t worry. The whole experience was so much fun.
“I always have a great experience in Scotland as the crowds are brilliant.”
‘We have never sounded better’
Critically-acclaimed singer James has performed with numerous musical icons.
He was asked to join Mick Jagger on stage whilst supporting The Rolling Stones at Twickenham Stadium in London.
James has also performed with Alicia Keys and Sheryl Crow.
In 2019 he opened up for ED Sheeran on his record-breaking stadium tour.
The coronavirus lockdown denied him the opportunity to play with his band, his recent tour was as a solo artist.
Now he is relishing playing with his band in Aberdeen and says they have never sounded better.
He said: “The last time I played with the band in front of a crowd was 2019.
“I’m absolutely bursting at the seams with excitement to be doing it again.
“We have never sounded better.
“It has been years since I’ve been able to get all my guitars out, plug them in and turn it up.
“It is good times again.
“I can’t wait to be on stage with the bigger stage, bigger crowd and a band.”
How to book tickets to see James Bay in Aberdeen
James Bay will play the Beach Ballroom in Aberdeen on Thursday May 12. Click here to buy tickets.