The wait is finally over… James Arthur‘s new album ‘YOU’ is out now. It’s been three years since he made his comeback with the hit single ‘Say You Won’t Let Go’. He also made history by being the first-ever ‘X Factor’ artist to be re-signed by Syco – a feat that is virtually unheard of in today’s music industry.
Despite the roller coaster journey he’s had with the media throughout his career, the JArmy never left his side even when the public had written him off.
Unlike his previous album, ‘Back From The Edge’, which was very introspective and intimate, James describes this new music as being inspired by the stories of others (hence the name of the record.)
“The last album was quite self-indulgent and I don’t mean that in a bad way, but because it was so personal, it became very taxing to talk about,” he explains. “So with this album, although some of the songs may be inspired by things that have happened to me, they are not written from my perspective.”
We’ve had the album on repeat since it dropped, so let’s dive straight in and discuss.
1.’YOU’ ft. Travis Barker
It’s a strong start with a banger that perfectly sets the tone for the entire album – embrace your individuality and feel free to be 100% yourself. The drumbeat takes centre stage in this song, which comes as no surprise considering it features Blink-182’s Travis Barker. James also takes us back to his ‘All The World’s A Stage’ days with a fire rap, showing a side to him that the general public may not have seen before.
Listen when you’re feeling: in need a confidence boost
Lyric highlight: “There’s nothing wrong with being you”
2. ‘Finally Feel Good’
This song is about learning to love yourself, and it feels bittersweet. As a long-time fan of James, I’ve followed him throughout all the highs and lows – and while it makes me happy knowing he’s got to a healthy place, it also hits us right in the feels knowing what he’s been through. We’re so proud of how far he’s come.
Listen when you’re feeling: comfortable in your own skin
Lyric highlight: “When you hit bottom, only place to go is up”
3. ‘Marine Parade’
James treats us to a little throwback with this track, as it was actually recorded back in 2013. It’s heavily soul-influenced and samples the song ‘Misty Blue’ (which is why it’s taken so long to release it). The title refers to the street he grew up on as a kid, and the song is littered with location-specific memories from his younger days.
Listen when you’re feeling: nostalgic
Lyric highlight: “And now the promenade seems such a lonely place since you left”
4. ‘If We Can Get Through This We Can Get Through Anything’
You know when you’re so far deep into something that you realise it’s too late to turn back now and you might as well just try to make things work somehow? Well that’s the kind of relationship James sings about in this guitar-heavy track. That one person who drives you crazy most of the time but you couldn’t imagine your life without them.
Listen when you’re feeling: like letting off some steam
Lyric highlight: “How can someone so beautiful as you be such a terrible human?”
5. ‘Car’s Outside’
Touring round the world may seem glamorous, but it can actually take a toll on the relationships in your life. This song is a heartfelt ballad about feeling tired of not getting to spend enough time with the people you care about. It’s clear that James really values his loved ones (something we can all relate to) and that he would prioritise them over any amount of fame and success.
Listen when you’re feeling: like you miss someone you love
Lyric highlight: “I’m not getting in the Addison Lee unless you pack your bags / You’re coming with me”
6. ‘Quite Miss Home’
It’s all in the details with this track. James demonstrates the power of storytelling with anecdotal lyrics that feel raw and intimate. It’s clear that for him, home isn’t so much a place but rather a person. We’re feeling all warm and fuzzy inside.
Listen to when you’re feeling: homesick
Lyric highlight: “I smell you cooking from the living room and then I tell you that I love your food / I know it doesn’t come easy, but you know it reminds me where I’m from”
7. ‘Treehouse’ ft. Ty Dolla $ign & Shotty Horroh
James has always been vocal about his mental health and that’s one of the reasons why fans love him so much. The fact that he’s moved the issue to the forefront of his music by releasing a single about the topic just makes us admire him even more. Every lyric in this song is important whilst also being catchy af.
Listen when you’re feeling: overwhelmed by the world
Lyric highlight: “It doesn’t mean we’re giving up the fight now / Everybody needs a place to hide out”
8. ‘Sad Eyes’
A melancholic song about seeing somebody hurting and wanting to take their pain away. James sings about drying tears and trying his best to make everything right again and it feels like he’s speaking directly to us. A girl can dream, right? I can already feel my ice cold soul melting.
Listen when you’re feeling: hopeless
Lyric highlight: “End of the tunnel, there is always light / You’re in the middle of the darkest night”
9. ‘Unconditionally’ ft. Adam Lazzara
All James ever wanted was to be loved in return, is that too much to ask? I personally love how the pre-chorus and chorus contrast each other. Like peanut butter and jelly, they don’t sound like they should go together but somehow it works.
Listen when you’re feeling: cheated
Lyric highlight: “Her lipstick, your collar / don’t bother, angel”
10. ‘Homicide Love’
Chills. The metaphorical lyrics hit deep and are conceptually similar to Rihanna’s ‘Russian Roulette’. I’m not sure any explanation could do this song justice, so I’d honestly recommend everyone go and give it a listen themselves.
Listen when you’re feeling: powerless
Lyric highlight: “Why you always waging war? / Tell me why I’m keeping score”
Catchy yet also soothing, this song sees James wear his heart on his sleeve and admit needing to be rescued. It’s refreshing to hear a male artist display such barefaced vulnerability and his voice sounds so smooth and jazzy you can’t help but sing along.
Listen when you’re feeling: anxious
Lyric highlight: “You’re my little ray of sunshine / You are immortality”
This song sees James let the hopeless romantic in him out as he describes the feeling of falling head-over-heels in love. All you know is that you’re feeling some kind of way and you don’t care about anything else. He’s giddy like a teenager and it’s so pure.
Listen when you’re feeling: in love at first sight
Lyric highlight: “Oh, my eyes can’t lie / You said, “They’re so damn blue”
Proving his dedication to talking openly about mental health, here’s another song that’s essentially saying “it’s okay not to be okay”. It’s a solemn ballad that sounds orchestral yet also has a folksy vibe through James’ voice.
Listen when you’re feeling: tired of holding yourself together
Lyric highlight: “I teach love is the fluid in all my songs / But then I faked my way through it with alcohol”
14. ‘Falling like the Stars’
Basically SYWLG part two. This is the kind of song the public love James for and it’s deffo already been played at weddings everywhere.
Listen when you’re feeling: madly in love and are imagining your future together
Lyric highlight: “I swear to God, I can see four kids and no sleep / We’ll have one on each knee, you and me”
15. ‘Empty Space’
James sings about missing another person so much that it’s like there’s a void that can never be filled. The song starts of with the subject trying to convince themselves that they’re better off, but it soon becomes clear that they’re haunted by crippling loneliness. A personal fave of mine.
Listen when you’re feeling: in denial about not being over someone
Lyric highlight: “I’m alone in my head looking for love in a stranger’s bed / but I don’t think I’ll find it ’cause only you could fill this empty space”
This song has already dominated radio and we totally understand why. It’s sweet, vulnerable, and showcases both James’ cheeky personality and incredible vocals. PS. Anyone else can’t help but wish he really was standing there naked? 🙈
Listen when you’re feeling: like taking a relationship to the next level
Lyric highlight: “I’m not gonna wait until you’re done / Pretending you don’t need anyone”
17. ‘From Me To You I Hate Everybody’
Me too, James, me too.
Listen when you’re feeling: done with the world
Lyric highlight: “From me to you, just a bunch of bodies in this room”