James Yuill James YuillMovement In A Storm
Although Nick Drake and Aphex Twin co-exist in completely different spheres, James Yuill will name them as his main influences when you ask him. Two years ago, when he launched his debut “Turning Down Water For Air”, he was already known as one of the most important exponents of European folktronica: a species who though rooted to an acoustic guitar aren’t at all taken aback by the use of stealthy electronics and laptops in music. While Yuill’s album got tons of praise –and got him booked to play over a hundred gigs across the world last year, he was so in demand- and made us forget about deactivated names like The Postal Service or Richard Davis. For this new “Movement In A Storm” he has decided, like the good nerd he must be at heart, to go for electronic pop in an 80s vein, of an innocent nature but full of instant melodies that bring a stupid smile on the listener’s face. What would be the ideal recipe for a folk singer to make his way to the pop world? Probably, making an album like this one.
Yuill is absolutely in charge here: he composes all the lyrics, isn’t scared of experimenting with instrumentation and also takes care of the artwork for all of his records. As a draftsman I would probably sack him, but that’s not what’s of principal interest here. Those who have had the opportunity to see him live have been able to confirm his creative thoroughness: sat between guitars, keyboards and other electronic devices, Yuill is a one-man band, a rara avis that will not let any exterior element get a grip on his compositions. The only exceptions on this we can find on the album is his collaboration with Rebecca from Slow Club, “Give You Away” –after a beautiful start that puts the cards on the table, the record stretches and shoots into action, like a good coffee in the morning to get rid of the sleep in your eyes- and on “Foreign Shore” and “Sing Me A Song”, the two tracks with Samantha Whates, textbook folktronica on which Yuill’s guitar and the dance beat share the starring role without infringing on one another.
Yuill wants us to dance and he achieves this best on pieces like “Crying For Hollywood”, where Hot Chip springs to mind, “On Your Own” –where it’s hard not to think about Calvin Harris– and “First In Line”, a track that makes me think about what would come of a hypothetical collaboration between Cornelius and Vince Clarke. Logically, when stumbling upon intimate songs so typical of the folk genre –as is the case of “Foreign Shore” or “Wild Goose At Night”– the record is enriched and shows off the already known aspect of Yuill as an experienced singer-songwriter (and it helps the labelling of this music as “folktronica” rise above being a senseless aberration). In any case, with an album like this it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Londoner put away his guitar in the future and focussed on the keyboards completely. “Movement In A Storm” is a stylistic change that guarantees we’ll keep paying attention. Sergio del Amo