Hold Back The River
Label: Universal Records
Along with Ed Sheeran, Passenger and George Ezra, James Bay belongs to a recent crop of British singer-songwriters who have experienced instant commercial success. Though Bay's debut, Chaos and the Calm, boasts the requisite percentage of smooth balladry (check out "Let It Go" and the Ray LaMontagne-flavored "Move Together" for starters), it also features the young Englishman's love for up-tempo pop-rock. The catchy "If You Ever Want to Be in Love" stands out for its Fleetwood Mac-inspired hop. "When We Were on Fire," meanwhile, is a foot-stomping mix of gospel, blues and rock.