I’ve been having a total James Blake moment for the past few days, probably because he’s one of the many acts I’m excited to see at Coachella this April, also because I sort of have a thing for hot white guys who can work a piano. There’s nothing better than re-discovering songs and albums in your iPod that you haven’t listened to for months or maybe longer, only to pull them out and remember how awesome they are. Well, somehow I forgot about how much I love “Limit to Your Love” from Blake’s 2011 self-titled debut. It came on my iPod the other day and I immediately felt this sound-induced pleasure all over my body, and I’ve basically been listening to this song over and over since.
“Limit to Your Love” was originally recorded by Canadian singer-songwriter Feist for her third full-length album The Reminder. Her version, above, feels folksy and strangely old school, like it was originally recorded in the 1960s. Blake’s version, though, is deeply minimal, slower but more beat driven than the original. The way he uses silence and spacing makes the entire song so effective. Cover songs are fascinating because you get to see how an artist takes a song that was probably already a hit and fits it into their own artistic language. And isn’t making something your own the point of artistry? Blake’s version has everything I’m obsessed with about electronic music — soul, a beautiful, haunting voice, piano, and drum machines.
The refreshing thing about it is that the song works both on the idealized format of a record, which has been mastered and mixed to perfection, and it works perfectly live, too. And that’s one of the pitfalls of this kind of music — that it can sound great recorded but absolutely awful live. But Blake sounds even better in the live performance of the song than he does on the record, and that just shows his level of talent.