Jamie Woon – Mirrorwriting Out Now

19 04 2011

I have waited a long time for this week. It has been four years since the release of Jamie Woon’s debut single, ‘Wayfaring Stranger’, the beautiful vocal loop sampled track taken from the traditional American spiritual/folk song of the same title. And after a long time of silence, he made his debut full album release yesterday.

Jamie was a Brit School graduate, so along with the likes of Adele, Amy Winehouse and Leona Lewis you could be fooled into thinking that he was destined for the pop world. He has been described as the next James Blake; I’m not sure if I like this label though. James Blake is one on his own and he pushed the boundaries of dubstep to show that minimalism can work. I think I can be bold enough to say that Jamie is a songwriter at heart and his core will always remain that way rather than focusing on the intricacies of aural soundscapes.

This is not to say Jamie has failed to strike a balance between song and effects, quite the opposite. There are tracks on Mirrorwriting like ‘Spiral’ where a faint yet percussive electronic glockenspiel features in the background throughout, the track wouldn’t have the mysterious vibe it emanates without that.

Most of his tracks are slower in tempo but this doesn’t mean that there aren’t memorable tunes that would be well received in a club. The opening track ‘Night Air’ is his most known work to date and it needs little introduction. His vocals are sporadic and disjointed but it is just what is needed as the bassline is allowed to have some glory and the treble synth chords accompany it wonderfully.

Two tracks towards the middle of the album titled ‘Lady Luck’ and ‘Middle’ push the mood to dance floor electronica laced with a hint of R&B. ‘Shoulda’ is a mid-tempo, reflective tune about what could have been. This was the track that gave me the first of two moments where I just stopped what I was doing to just listen in awe.

The second of those notable moments was during ‘Gravity’. The penultimate track on the album, for me this should have been the final song because it is just over five minutes of pure bliss. I’ve seen many variations of some of the tracks that have made it on this lovingly crafted album, mostly on YouTube as live cuts filmed by a fan or as demos. I’ve therefore hummed along to ‘Gravity’ for quite some time, hearing it just in acoustic form until now. I was really surprised to see how much the song had developed on the album, with a melancholic, echoey introduction and slightly muffled vocals. It gives a distinct feeling of claustrophobia, which add depth to the lyrics of refusing ‘to be weighed down by gravity’ as he hauntingly sings.

In days gone by, most of Jamie Woon’s uploads were just a man and his guitar. His soulful timbred voice could put him up there as a potential pop sensation that teenagers could swoon over (including me). However during his earlier acoustic days, it always felt like there was something missing. Perhaps it was the fact that he had yet to find his true musical identity. Burial notably helped the refining process and after waiting so long to see what he would come up with in his album debut, it shows that the hard work paid off.

It can be ordered from Amazon and it is currently less than £8, or a couple of pounds more in download format with extra tracks from iTunes.

This first full album release can be summed up as being understated but enigmatic. I am left wondering post album whether Jamie will have the mainstream success that many claimed he would have after the release of ‘Night Air’. This album definitely doesn’t have the right atmosphere to be one for the masses, so it will be interesting to hear what he does next. I hope the next installment doesn’t take as long this time though!

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One response

19 04 2011
Bass

Jamie Woon’s debut single is one of the best songs i heard in the last few months or year. Just great.

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