James Arthur’s new album You shows a different side of him


An acoustic rhythm with heart-heavy lyrics symbolize my Sunday nights. The slow, soothing tempos of the music in a dimly lit room signal to my mind and body a sense of comfort. James Arthur’s new album You can be found sporadically throughout this playlist, and it evokes a homely ambience. 

The album begins with a brusque piano beat that initiates a voice. The voice is muffled and elderly—not James Arthur’s. I expected to hear rhymes that match the rhythm; however, the song started with a speech.

It was different than what I am used to hearing by him. Not bad, just different. The song, titled “You,” features singer Travis Barker and doesn’t resemble the other songs by him that appear on my Sunday-night playlist. 

The beat in the background quickens as his voice surfaces at a fast pace. It is almost as if there is a power struggle between the notes and his voice. The notes challenge the song to a battle, though it is clear that neither seem to win. 

“You” lowered my expectations for the rest of the album but not enough for me to give up on the album entirely. 

As I continued to listen, I came across multiple songs that reminded me of the James Arthur I’ve played on repeat. The songs “Maybe,” “Falling like Stars,” and “Quite Miss Home” were added to my Sunday-night playlist instantly; however, the song “Empty Space” stood alone and transcended my expectations for any song on this album.

The lyrics filled with anguish and heartbreak cast a gloomy shadow over me as I listen. They infuse me with sadness but continue to make me smile. The written words portray graceful lyrics.

As “Empty Space” continues to play and the beat builds and intensifies quickly, more emotion begins to spur out of his mouth, and the rhythm follows close behind. The musicality used throughout the entire song is both fanciful and ineffable. 

As the strum of a guitar quivered and the raspy voice warbled its last note, I was put into a state of awe; that was the James Arthur I had been looking for. 

The album left me with contentment. Though there were songs that did not fit specific expectations, his music continues to impress me.