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While You Were Sleeping

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Audio CD, April 10, 2014
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Editorial Reviews

José James has announced a June 10 release date for his new album, While You Were Sleeping, his fifth studio album and his second album for Blue Note Records. While You Were Sleeping is the follow-up to his widely acclaimed R&B and jazz steeped No Beginning No End, and signals a new creative direction for the versatile singer-songwriter. The album was recorded in Brooklyn, NY, and was produced by José and Brian Bender.

That creative shift is heard in the rock edge of tracks like EveryLittleThing and Anywhere U Go and is evidenced in a change in José s band which adds guitarist Brad Allen Williams to the stellar line-up of keyboardist Kris Bowers, bassist Solomon Dorsey and drummer Richard Spaven. The influence of Jimi Hendrix can be heard throughout the album as much as R&B forefathers like Al Green. Special guests on While You Were Sleeping include vocalist Becca Stevens who duets with James on her song Dragon, as well as trumpeter Takuya Kuroda who is featured on the cover of Green s classic Simply Beautiful that closes the album.

This album is a synthesis of everything I love about music, says José, from contemporary artists like Frank Ocean, James Blake, and Junip to groundbreaking artists I grew up with like Nirvana, Radiohead, and Madlib.It's also a love letter to many late nights spent in East London clubs like Plastic People and Cargo, watching new movements unfold in electronic music. I want people to feel the joy of discovery that I experience night after night onstage, reaching for something new.

1. Angel
2. U r the 1
3. While You Were Sleeping
4. Anywhere U Go
5. Bodhisattva
6. 4 Noble Truths
7. Dragon feat. Becca Stevens
8. Salaam
9. Without U
10. EveryLittleThing
11. xx
12. Simply Beautiful feat. Takuya Kuroda

Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 10, 2014)
  • Original Release Date: 2014
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Blue Note
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #31,125 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jetrocket on June 21, 2014
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I am a Jose James fan, and for the most part I've appreciated and look forward to all his releases. Each release has introduced another facet to his artistry and talent, while at the same time reaffirming his core uniqueness as a vocalist. While You Were Sleeping places James in a setting edged out with rock guitars and agressive live drums; sporting a feel that's more akin to how James comes across in a live setting. WYWS sounds less refined and processed than say Black Magic and it takes a minute to attenuate the ears to his latest course. Generally with a Jose James record a certain smoothness is expected and while WYWS has its smoothed out moments ( i.e. his faithful take on Al Green's Simply Beautiful), there is also a new swagger on some tracks (i.e. Angel, and 4 Nobel Truths). However the core is still in tact - he's still giving engaging modally structured tracks that rise and intensify, he still croons and sweeps you along with his velvety tones. And yes he is still evolving and refining his craft. This is a good addition to his catalogue and I know I will be returning to it throughout the summer. It is currently my third favorite JJ cd, right behind the Dreamer and Black Magic, and is poised to overtake...I like it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Roy Whitman on January 20, 2015
Format: MP3 Music
With a sound both cosmopolitan and international, chanteur extraordinaire Jose James brings to the lacquer box table an album of distant strains and earthly delights with his “While You Were Sleeping.” A little touch of Jose Mendes, a touch of Jose Cura, and a touch of Jose Feliciano makes for a smooth gazpacho of music but the underlying stock is unmistakably Jose James. And like gazpacho or revenge, “While You Were Sleeping” is best served cold and his particular brand of musical voodoo handled carefully lest the spirit world be aroused too much. His sometimes tenor, sometimes alto falsetto male voice is as subtle as it is sexy and sensuelle with a smooth smokiness to its timbre. Done in a personal lounge style with a bossa nova-like appeal, “While You Were Sleeping” capitalizes on the sultry vocals by utilizing repetition of key lyrics to create a hypnotic, mesmerizing flow to the music.

Freeing the subconscious mind, or perhaps releasing the id from its ego, seems to be one of the goals of James’ free-floating and lyrical approach to this album. It is the voice of James and his alter ego of instrumentals that mesh and bond into a kaleidoscopic invention and re-invention of shimmering sound and tropical-like timbre. An arabesque aura permeates James’ “While You Were Sleeping” single and lays the groundwork for the album’s remaining tracks. With a pleasing sophistication and a pleasant intoxication, Jose James’ “While You Were Sleeping” album releases endorphins that give wild abandon to the senses as well as the sleeping imagination, and awaken in us all a descent, but also ascent, into the worldly void of musical experimentation.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By D. C. Stolk on July 12, 2014
Format: Audio CD
"While You Were Sleeping" is a very aptly titled album, as at first I wasn't even aware a new record by José James had appeared. Must be because he has been particularly productive - he made his debut in 2008, but since then there've been seven records on which this American singer made an appearance (although three of them are collaborations with other musicians). "While You Were Sleeping" is his fourth solo album and his second for the jubilee jazz label Blue Note Records. Blue Notes celebrates its 75th Anniversary this year, and although they are mainly known for their old jazz records, José James is one of their greatest contemporary stars.

James is a bit of a late bloomer (his first album was released at the age of thirty) and, like Prince who is also one of his icons, he is a native of Minneapolis. The most obvious reference to His Royal Badness on "While You Were Sleeping" is "UR The 1," both in sound and in title. But that said, James lays down tracks that are uniquely his own. Bordering on minimalistic R & B, futuristic hip hop, electronic jazz and sultry neo-soul, in these tracks James creates his own reality, in which he uses his own rules, as on "Bodhisattva," with its psychedelic sound, piercing drums and an amazing build-up.

As the title suggests, the album contains a series of dreamy tunes, including "xx" and the goose-bumps inducing duet "Dragon," which features Becca Stevens. Her beautiful, fragile voice fits perfectly with that of James and give us the "smallest" song on the record. There's also the relaxed Al Green cover "Simply Beautiful," which features Takuya Kuroda (not a singer, he plays the trumpet). The beautiful title track "While You Were Sleeping" shows the romantic José James.
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Format: Vinyl Verified Purchase
Finding the real love is Jose James’ ultimate theme as it was on his previous album, No Beginning No End. As soon as Brad Allen Williams opens “Angel” supplying sturdy rock riff, he goes on searching for the real love. Kris Bower’s organ and Richard Spaven’s drums create inorganic atmosphere in “Ur The 1.” James soliloquizes the time for lovers to embrace. “While You Were Sleeping,” she’s gone on the last train. His love affair is over. Williams’ guitar sounds lovely. Solomon Dorsey’s synthetic bass sends out impressive beat. Da-da-da Da-da-da Da-da-da… … … Williams persistently repeats simple melody line on “Anywhere U Go.” James, riding on hard-rocking beat, implores to take him to anywhere she goes. On the spiritual questing “Bodhisattva,” Spaven’s drums pump out exotically mysterious rhythm. He sings he can’t to take another day till she comes again. Does he become a Buddhist worthy of nirvana who postpones it to help others? Folk-rock like guitar intro is beautiful on “4 Noble Truths.” James has nothing to offer but only blood faith. Becca Stevens’ wurlizer intro is sensual on “Dragon.” James flies through the night chasing her light. He doesn’t see the light in the dark “Without U.” His pursuit now has a heightened urgency, a more brazen passion. Getting on the discotheque sounds, James raises his voice to see in Japan! He claims they can do it again in “Every Little Thing.” He insists his love is over everything in “XX.” Takuya Kuroda delivers a wonderfully melodic trumpet solo on Al Green’s “Simply Beautiful.” All night long, talking about loving you……”You got to be good to me. I’m gonna be good to you.”
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