Hayden James ‘Between Us’: A Review

Perhaps a collation of the recent monumental moments of his life over the last few years all imprinted carefully in Hayden James’ latest release, ‘Between Us’.

Much has changed in six years, since signing to Future Classic in 2013 and ascending the dance music scene, James’ is now feeling the love as a husband, father and artist.

So, it really makes sense for him to release a new album.

The album weaves through the stages of a ‘push-pull’ relationship, radiating a striking LA vibe, perfect for a walk along the beach at sunset with the palm trees by your side.

James’ built most of the record in LA, a place he describes similar to his Manly residence in Sydney.

As he told Billboard, “the environment I live in has a huge role in shaping not only my music, but my life as well.”

What are you waiting for, let’s press play.

It may be winter but Hayden James is bringing summer back into our ears with ‘Hold Me Back’ , its up-tempo claps and soothing synth melody eases you in like rolling waves on a warm summer night. Oozing some deeper house elements that inject a velvety richness and maturity throughout. The tropical futuristic vocals omit a more serious lyrical tone, “please don’t hold me back if you miss me, like the way I miss you lying her tonight.”

‘Nowhere to Go’ featuring NAATION stands out with its refreshing zippy, bouncing synth over NAATION’s raw yet bubbly vocals releasing a breath of optimism. The catchy chorus perhaps delves into the notion of the feeling you get when you meet someone and their company just makes you feel at home.

‘Just Friends’ is a track many can instantly resonate with, the ‘hmm’ at the start injects an air of familiarity. Instantly, Boy Matthew’s vocals radiate a summery, modern relaxed tempo into the sultry synth cleverly tuned to be reminiscent of a hidden, burning love.

If the word ‘cool’ had a song, ‘Feelin’ – Interlude’ would be it. Holding some restraint in the beginning with a raw piano combined with simply mesmserising distorted vocals maintains James’ modern, alternative vibe. The sound is tuned to something flirtier, a woozy acoustic and ticking percussion just ooze ‘Sunday session vibe’.

‘Better Together’ features Running Touch and opens with a darker, mysterious electronic build alongside the deep husky vocals singing out, “where you go I go, I’m waiting for you”. Something about the lulled keyboard fused with the jittering percussion emulates a vibe reminiscent of a Rüfüs soundscape. Although a little repetitive the dynamic vocals emphasise a richness, with the sensual ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ accentuating the yearning for love.

‘Between Us’ begins with a simple rather innocent piano fused with Panama’s high-pitch vocals echoing, ‘this is all over”. The vocal crispness soothes the melting piano giving off a cool wintery sensation. The up-tempo beat progressively ticks into a fully-flowering melody constantly shedding this feeling of desperation and longing for what was ‘between us’.

A much more electronic sound, ‘Remember You’ features the dominant vocals of Elderbrook over a dulled, almost numbing keyboard composition that gives off a very ‘human-type’ sensation. Then in true James’ style the warped synth propels over some swirling zappy vocals to create a pertinent and electric sound perhaps echoing the essence of the song and musically portraying our soul lighting up at the thought of that special someone.

The moment you hear the glassy synth chords, you just instantly get a feeling that ‘Favours’ is going to be an admired track. Nat Dunn’s vocals resonate this wild modernity then the claps and percussion keep things flowing along smoothly. James’ clever vocal layering built into a solid, house-infused soundscape resulting in something you could easily bump to on a late-night drive.

‘Numb’ has been circulating for quite a while now and happy to see it mould onto this record, particularly it’s thoughtful placement. Just mesmerising yet hard-hitting, the innocent strings opening the track yet the assuring vocals of GRAACE tell a story of struggling to be vulnerable and break away from the past to allow a new relationship to enter.

‘Weightless’ features Shungudzo and is the final track from the record. The reverbed echoing vocals and steady hums create an almost levitating soundscape, making this final track really live up to its name. Later into the song, a heavier bassline adds an anchor for the layered vocals to build into a rather up-tempo, soothing beat. This ends the album with a sense of clarity and up-tempo charisma which will surely keep the summer flame burning right through winter, as Shungudzo sings “let’s just keep the feeling.”

Go get your download your copy of ‘Between Us’ HERE.

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