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James King - deluge (The System)

27 June 2024

Sitting somewhere between the realm of the earthbound singer-songwriter and some sort of ambient explorer of the sonic ether, “deluge,” the grammatically belligerent latest one from James King is a welcome arrival. (What is it with this latest trend of not capitaising titles these days? No good will come of it, I tell you.)

And I say welcome arrival because for the last few weeks, I seem to have been inundated with so-called singer-songwriters (a veritable deluge of the buggers) and to a man, and it was mainly men; they seemed to have little original to say in the song nor anything particularly new to bring to the delivery.

Which is why my ears pricked up when I heard this track. Okay, the words have been set low in the mix, almost gliding through as an instrument rather than a focal point for direct communication, but still a beguiling and gorgeous part of the track. But the sonic arrangement here is just gorgeous.

At just under two minutes, it is, even by pop standards, a short song, but in that time, it plays with spiralling acoustic guitar riffs, twinkling piano, ambient washes, hushed and heavenly harmonies, the sort that sit somewhere between The Beach Boys and Jeff Buckley and floating and fleeting sonics.

There is something dreamlike and almost acid-laced about the song, something lysergic and louche, but it shows James King to have a great imagination when reinventing the humble singer-songwriter mode for the modern age. Benchmark set! Who’s up for the challenge?