British singer-songwriter and electronic producer extraordinaire James Blake delivered a solo piano performance this past weekend at FORM Arcosanti in Arizona. To close out his set, he fittingly covered Frank Ocean’s “Godspeed” from the stunning album Blake helped to create, Blonde.
During his solo set, Blake performed various songs from his catalog, including Overgrown‘s standout song “Retrograde,” as well as several cuts from his latest album The Colour In Anything, which dropped last year. “There will be mountains you won’t move,” Blake sings in his signature falsetto croon; each word quivers through a slow vibrato. The performance is minimal, raw, and chilling. Blake is credited for production, arrangement, and keyboard contributions on the song — it makes sense he would cover it.
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Ocean and Blake also worked together on The Colour In Anything. In an interview with Pitchfork, Blake said that Frank “was a huge inspiration for this record: his process, the way he writes, the strength of what he does, who he is. We became very good friends.”
Blake is no stranger to covering great songs. His rise to fame came with his unique, electronic rendition of Feist’s “Limit to Your Love.” He’s also done stripped-down piano covers before; on the 2011 EP Enough Thunder, he included a poignant performance of Joni Mitchell’s “A Case Of You.” It was not nearly as adventurous as his Feist cover, but it solidified Blake’s ability to captivate with just his voice and piano.
Blake isn’t the first artist to cover “Godspeed.” Stormzy delivered a gospel-inflected performance of the song on BBC Radio 1. In addition, dvsn remixed the song, blending the original vocals with dvsn’s.
Frank Ocean has been on a new music streak this year, releasing three singles and updated versions of older tracks. Earlier this morning, he shared a new A$AP Rocky song, “RAF,” that features Quavo, Lil Uzi Vert, and Frank himself.
Check out the original version of “Godspeed” below.