Until about halfway through, “I Never Learnt to Share” is basically barren. This a key theme for James Blake, a monk’s sparseness and the opposite politics of fulfillment through lack. The song has a brief climax after a steady build, funky keys stewed and warm, with Blake repeating its only two lines, a peculiar pun, the title’s punchline, My brother and my sister don’t speak to me/ And I don’t blame them. Thee first few bars are just Blake’s quivering voice, first singular, then doubled, tripled, a thin layer cake of vulnerability. But just after, there is a drum click and a church organ workout, a little bit of fun, and little else has sound as plum as Blake there, not a soul singer by any means, but taking cues from the heavy throated. His English schoolboy voice has surprising ease, and drilled with the smoky repetition of a speakeasy singer, it’s its own kind of powerful. “I Never Learnt to Share” is probably going to come off of YouTube real soon we bet (it has before, but we like when it pops back up), so take a listen when you can. A year and a half ago, Oliver Sim said you should.
Update: “I Never Learnt to Share” was taken off YouTube.