James Blake is the sort of artist who you know and love, or you’re yet to discover.
On Thursday night (Nov. 19), the electronic artist and producer changed tac for a haunting cover of “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” on The Tonight Show.
Performing at a grand piano with no pyrotechnics, smoke machines or digital wizardry, Blake stripped it right back to the core. It was a moment that should thrust Blake into new audiences, win him more friends.
Brit Blake first came to recognition in the 2010s with a string of EPs, and his critically-launched, self-titled 2011 album. Its followup, 2013’s Overgrown, won the coveted Mercury Music Prize and a Grammy for best new artist.
His fourth full-length album, 2019’s Assume Form, reached No. 21 on the Billboard 200 and No. 6 on the Official U.K. Albums Chart, a career-high in both territories.
“The First Time” was written by Ewan MacColl in Peggy Seeger in the 1950s and was a major hit for Roberta Flack in the 1970s. It’s Blake’s latest single.