It feels like a lifetime since people have been able to gather outside a festival tent and really just dance together under the stars. The nostalgia for events like these is definitely reaching fever pitch and is one of the inspirations for Hayden James’ latest album ‘LIFTED’.
With an aim to bring people together, Hayden James has crafted an album full of songs you can fully get lost in. Although each track has its own unique melody, the specific thing that binds them all together is a love of dance that oozes out of every single note.
‘Lights Go Down’ and ‘Hold Tight’ will instantly fill your mind with memories of swaying to the beat on a grass hill. ‘Lights Go Down’ utilises haunting harmonies and a hollow beat to create a mysterious vibe around the otherwise upbeat melody. It’s a track that’s both fun and mystifying, which are interesting feelings to balance. ‘Hold Tight’ definitely has a fun vibe too, but it’s more vibrant than ‘Lights Go Down’. Piano tones lead the vocals and smacking samples, with the quick beat instantly infecting you and making you want to move.
‘Fade’ takes ‘LIFTED’ into darker territory, feeling more industrial than dance-heavy. FLYNN’s vocals feel deep and entrancing as they slither around digitised samples that still somehow feel a bit sexy. The melody of ‘Fade’ is minimal, but still feels smooth and almost metallic in a way, as there’s a sharpness that seems to glide alongside the flowing atmospherics.
‘On Your Own’ continues the darker trend, but takes the album from the smooth and sexy arena, to a more razor-like precision. Trance-influenced samples open the track and bursting synths crash through the haunting atmospherics like fireworks. Listening to ‘On Your Own’ is an experience not unlike driving through a field of lasers in the middle of the night. The quick, harsh flashes of colour burst through the dark atmosphere, creating a track that feels dangerous, but in the most magical way.
To lighten things up again, ‘Waiting For Nothing’ brings a bit of warmth back to the album. The atmospherics increase the temperature, while warped harmonies swirl amongst enticing synths that still anchor the track in some darkness. ‘Waiting For Nothing’ feels like you’re dancing on your own in a bustling crowd, falling deeper into the song and allowing the rest of the world to fall away. It’s a memory I’m sure most of us all have, but one we’re eager to relive and ‘Waiting For Nothing’ captures really well.
The grittiness of ‘Fade’ returns on ‘Free’, which also features the vocals of Boo Seeka. Humming atmospherics and warped vocal samples swirl beneath the deep vocal track and more firework-like samples burst through the shadows to add an extra element of power to the melody. The hero of this track is the crunchy synths that add strength and texture to the otherwise understated track. It’s almost like the power within the song is being let out at particular moments, to keep the listener on their toes and so you can almost feel the power swimming beneath the surface before it launches into the chorus.
When the first notes of ‘Down On Me’ begin, you know we’ve reached the lighter end of ‘LIFTED’. Twinkling synths and perky samples dance with light, wooden percussion, creating a sun-soaked track with hints of arcade game cheekiness. Light vocals flow closely alongside the melody instead of being a separate entity, and creates a feeling almost of child-like nostalgia. ‘Down On Me’ feels like a memory in musical form, which is so lovely to hear.
‘LIFTED’ closes with its title track, which also happens to be the album’s lightest. Buzzing atmospherics hover above a steady beat that still feels delicate. There’s an airiness to this track and although it’s still incredibly easy to dance to, it also has a dreaminess that feels like a cool breeze.
Although Hayden James has brought beautiful light and heavy darkness into the tracks on ‘LIFTED’, they all still feel connected by their energy and colossal need to be danced to. This album will be best appreciated live, with the lively and infectious atmosphere we all used to get lost in years ago.
‘LIFTED’ will bring people together, whether they’re friends or strangers, to dance and reminisce about festivals past, and also celebrate the festivals and joyous moments to come. There’s no doubt in my mind.