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James Baley — A Story

Ontario: Top 10 of 2021

by Daniel McIntosh

Like many of today’s good R&B artists, James Baley’s music is rooted in gospel. Unlike many of today’s R&B artists, James Baley supersedes the expectation, bringing a ballroom-inflected twist to an Edenic concept album of questioning and belonging. A Story puts Baley’s warm vocals front and centre balanced by experimental, kinetic instrumentals that drive the theme forward. Baley delivers a compelling assertion of his ability to share vulnerability and probe haughty ideas through his vivid storytelling.

Read our review of James Baley’s My Story live show experience

Bo Burnham’s transcendent comedy special isn’t the only great piece of COVID-adjacent art titled Inside released this year. The indie-rock quintet’s latest opens and closes with the sounds of the 7pm clanging pots and pans that once heralded the essential workers, and many of the tracks find them grappling with introspective thoughts while trapped in a room – being stuck inside one’s own head being an even worse fate than the physical boundaries.