José James

José James should be famous. His debut, The Dreamer, should be placed in the gallery of soul and jazz vocal greats: Marvin, Stevie, Donny, Al, Johnny Hartman, Jon Lucien and Andy Bey. James is the truth, plain and simple. His latest, like his first, is on BBC DJ Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood record label and, unfortunately, has poor American distribution. On Blackmagic, James pushes beyond the jazzy confines of The Dreamer. A couple cuts feature his stage band, but most use beatsmiths Flying Lotus and Moodymann. The result is more R&B-flavored, but James’ laid-back vocals ooze with the light-pole leaning cool of yesterday’s smoothest crooners. The second half of this album guarantees maternity wards will fill up come fall. From the cover of Nancy Wilson’s “Save Your Love for Me” to the breathy “Love Conversation” with newcomer Jordana de Lovely, the entire album feels like that first sip of a great bourbon, warming you from your lips down to your toes. It’s impossible to pick a favorite, but I smile every time “Beauty” and “Detroit Loveletter” come on. Listen to this only if you’re in the company of someone you want to make new memories with.