James Yuill at Corsica Studios
Whoever penned the phrase “Jack of all trades, master of none” had not encountered James Yuill: the artist expertly incorporates wistful folk with electro, synthpop and house beats, and even edged into 90s trance, performing singles from new album These Spirits at Corsica Studios last night.
A bespectacled, waistcoated and rather unassuming figure, Yuill stood behind an impressive array of mixing decks, synths and drum machines, before deftly launching into The Rush. The live version is a completely different beast from the record, with a throbbing bass line that sadly overwhelmed his ethereal vocals and questioning lyrics.
The track seamlessly segued into Lost in California, an equally delightful dance anthem. Here, Yuill demonstrated his instinctive understanding of rhythm and melody through an intricate pairing of 80s synth and intense syncopated beats that vibrated through the body.
There is certainly a West Coast dreamwave influence that imbues the senses, enhanced by a psychedelic backdrop of flashing lights, colourful images and animation. In addition, Yuill’s voice is similar in tone to Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie/The Postal Service fame, which brings a soft sincerity to his brand of dance music that shouldn’t work, but really does.
Some might admire Yuill’s tenacity in fusing genres – it defines him as an accomplished multi-instrumentalist – but the gig’s lack of cohesion mirrored the inconsistencies of his latest release. This was most noticeable in the transition between his heartfelt acoustic performance of Carrie (a rather saccharine ballad albeit touchingly dedicated to his sister on the night) and the up-tempo floor filler Constants.
Nonetheless, the small audience warmed to his self-deprecating charm and bashful repetition of “Why thank you very much”. They cheered at every euphoric offering and danced uninhibitedly to “the slightly new version” of No Pins Allowed, reinvigorated by a chromatic riff and typically garage breakdown.
Yuill proved adept both crouched over a laptop and when wielding his acoustic guitar, but his prowess for the former is what really brought this show to life. His particularly impassioned performance of Turn Yourself Around, sure to be an instant club hit, was limited by the intimate venue.
These Spirits marks a move towards more synthetic material. Should Yuill choose to focus his live performance on this side of his discography, he is sure to be a force to be reckoned with.
Photos: Sarah Louise Renwick
For further information and future events visit James Yuill’s website here.
Watch the video for Turn Yourself Around here: