James Blake released “You’re Too Precious” last Friday, the first single to follow his 2019 record Assume Form. Carefully thought out and nothing redundant, each layer of this song adds to its mesmerising arrangement. There is an opening sombre piano line with shrill vocals that splutter “You’re too precious”. Then there is a synth bass that adds depth, with syncopated claps and a muddy kickdrum that playfully offset the hypnotic melodies. And when it seems like the song is almost fully formed, Blake enters with silky vocals, compressing the record like a thick blanket. Some layers sustain throughout, others move and elicit a reaction: they dissipate to give focus to new entries, or gently amplify to invite a new harmony or texture. It’s the type of song that brings something new with every listen. Blake says of the song:
After a certain amount of time, somebody becomes too precious to lose, and now you want to protect them in any way you can. I wrote this song at 5 am and it brought me a lot of peace. Thought it might be a nice accompaniment to a lockdown dinner.