JAMES BAY — SLIDE

Rating: 4.4/5

The year before I saw Kiiara at Lollapalooza, I saw James Bay — an almost nobody at the time, right after “Hold Back the River” started getting mild airplay. He had one of the earlier sets in the day, but even in the 90-degree, not-a-cloud-in-the-sky weather, he drew a crowd.

When Bay released “Wild Love” a few weeks ago, I was a little disappointed because I didn’t feel like it really showcased the easy flow of Bay’s voice. Great song, but missing his essence. And then he hits us with “Slide,” a slow, simple piano ballad that gives Sam Smith a run for his money. On the track, Bay’s voice is supple, full, and beautifully nostalgic.

At least 50 percent of the music landscape is songs about break-ups, but if break-up songs are rectangles, “Slide” is a square.

No more coked up, broke, nocturnal kids

Was that ever even us? Do we know what we missed?

Nobody teaches you how to win big

Nobody said there’s no reverse on this

Then we slide into the arms of someone else

Reminiscent of OneRepublic’s “Fear,” Bay somehow manages to tell a story without any actual plot points. He perfectly captures the nostalgia of an old lover, friend, acquaintance, or whoever it might be by drumming up one simple question: how did I get here?

This isn’t an angry in-the-moment track; this is about looking back and wondering how that person just ‘slid’ out of your life. It’s gradual; it’s inevitable; it’s a mystery about the person you used to be and the people you left behind who helped turn you into the person you are now. This is a track that forces you to look inward — but takes the fear out of it. We all slide.

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