Louisiana-born crooner Luke James has appeared on a slew of great singles this year thanks to his star turn in the soapy Empire spinoff Star; he joined the cast in season two as comeback-trail-riding bad boy Noah Brooks, whose trip back to the top of R&B’s heap caused chaos even as its attendant songs (the robo-psych-funk cheatee’s lament “Filthy Sheets,” the wearily romantic duet “Aim x Shoot”) showed off James’ gravity-defying voice and smoldering sexiness.
Earlier this summer, he released the playfully sexy “These Arms,” a stretched-out salute to love’s simpler pleasures. Over slowly blooming keyboards and heartbeat-pace snaps, James describes the excitement and contentment he derives from “our love’s inner pull,” a feeling so delightful it sends his voice into falsetto range within 20 seconds. But that’s far from the end; “Arms” ebbs and flows in a delectably tense way over the ensuing five minutes, with cascading chorales accompanying James’ acrobatic vocals until keyboard twinkles signal a satisfied fade to black. “These Arms” is an ideal accompaniment for the waning days of summer, its reveling in the now mirroring the limitless vibe of those last weekends before autumn arrives.