REVIEWED: Jose James – “No Beginning No End”

Jose James - No Beginning No EndSing Softly and Carry a Big Band
By Matt

Let’s open a speakeasy, you and I.

It’ll be fun! C’mon, let’s get swept away in the waves of gentrification. We’ll buy a house on East 7th, dim the lights, and get our liquor license (or not). And I know just the music we’ll play.

This Jose James fellow is a cool cat. Currently hailing from Brooklyn and bearing the more or less accurate label of “jazz singer for the hip-hop generation,” James makes music that’s as classic as it is progressive. It’s cozy, too, especially if the idea of 1920s politicians making shady deals in speakeasies makes you feel cozy. Which is all to say that it’s a very cool, comfortable aesthetic that also succeeds in keeping you on your toes. Which would be perfect for our speakeasy.


While No Beginning No End keeps a constant voice throughout, the voice tells a complex story with many folds. Every song bears a unique identity: “Sword & Gun” is an exotic track that can’t be boxed in by labels; “Trouble” is a mischievous number with a great groove; “Heaven on the Ground” is straight out of the Lianne La Havas playbook; and “Do You Feel” sounds like a mix between the fanciest restaurant in Brooklyn and the most inspirational tale of urban renewal you’ve ever heard.

Although there’s still plenty of good new jazz music these days, James’ brand stands out from the crowd. It’s jazz, but it’s also soul, R&B, and lots of other beautiful stuff that subgenre definitions can’t quite do justice.

Score 8

Matt’s picks:
(2) Sword & Gun feat. Hindi Zahra
(3) Trouble
(6) Heaven on the Ground feat. Emily King
(7) Do You Feel


About mattneric

We like music.
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One Response to REVIEWED: Jose James – “No Beginning No End”

  1. Larry says:

    Nice review. Succinct, with a good hook to it, and enough description to create interest. I didn’t get to see James when he played at the Cedar this past Tuesday, but did see him when he was in town last year. He’s figured out how to appeal to young and old without pandering to either.

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