Loraine James Reflection Hyperdub
With its fractured beats and shy confessionalism, London producer Loraine James won hearts with her acclaimed Hyperdub debut For You and I in 2019. Since then, James has zeroed in on her craft, self-releasing a string of multi-track collections and even put out another EP, titled Nothing, for the revered London label. The arrival of her third album, Reflection, feels like a culmination of all these projects; it’s an open-hearted work by an artist that has undoubtedly levelled up.
Featuring her vocals far more prominently than ever before, James flits between doubtful introspection and open vulnerability. On Simple Stuff, she lays it bare and declares, “I like the simple stuff/ We like the simple things/ What does that bring?” over spliced beats. Building on the album’s tender energy, James enlists the layered harmonies of emo-pop electronic producer Baths for On the Lake Outside.
But Reflection’s emotional catharsis goes beyond the personal. Written during a period of lockdown-induced focus, the album carries within it the broader collective anxieties that came to define 2020. This is most noticeable on album closer We’re Building Something New, which sees Manchester rapper Iceboy Violet anatomise the grief felt throughout the Black community through stark imagery (“breaking bread and cable ties”). Dedicated to “all the victims of police violence”, the track’s ascetic rhythms make room for flourishes of warm piano, like resilience giving rise to something approaching hope. It’s a fitting end to an album that shores up James’ position as one of the UK’s most compelling producers.