Jamie Woon – Mirrorwriting | Album Review

After coming up fourth on the BBC Sound of 2011 poll at the start of the year seemingly solely off of the critically acclaimed Burial-co produced “Night Air” single which Pitchfork described as “one of the key tracks of 2010”, 28-year old British singer, songwriter and producer Jamie Woon has been firmly on the lips of critics and avid music listeners alike as we awaited the release of some music from the BRIT school graduate and Red Bull Music Academy alumni to back up his buzz.

Sitting somewhere between R&B, Soul, Electronica and Dubstep, Woon recently put out the follow-up single to “Night Air,” titled “Lady Luck,” to yet another rapturous reception. Laced with lush percussions, sexy dirty bass, glorious jaunts of looped vocals and harmonies and splendid handclaps, the ‘vocal-led’ song (or rather more vocal-led than “Night Air”) lacked the obscurity, the lyrical edge and sheer groove of “Night Air” but did a lot to showcase Jamie Woon’s vocal dexterity, in case that was ever in doubt – and comparisons with the Justin Timberlakes and Jamie Lidells of the world began to be tossed up left, right and center.

Woon releases his debut album, Mirrorwriting, on April 18 via Polydor Records. Below, we find out if it lives up the steady “buzz” that has surrounded Jamie Woon leading up to this point.

Quickly off the bat, “Gravity” has got to be one of the best songs of the last 12 months; it certainly is my favourite song at the moment and the best song on this Mirrorwriting album. Woon’s vocals on this song are exceptionally compelling; his texture and tone are simply to die for and you can taste the despair all over the song with the lyrics he conveys so exceptionally evocatively and musically, filled with rich and expansive electronic goodness all tying into acoustic guitar riffs that essentially form the underpinning of “Gravity.” A classic song writing mixed with experimental production which leans towards Dubstep and Electronica to perfect effect.

Backed by only the acoustic guitar and the slightest of percussion patterns on “Waterfront” (it’s almost as if he rode a boat out to sea and recorded this out there), Jamie Woon’s vocals and lyrics are the centre point of this song and you wouldn’t want it any other way.

I’m a sucker for acoustic recordings anyway but there is absolutely nothing wrong with “Waterfront” and with lyrics like I decided to go out and breathe in the air I was made for, I’m inclined to give it a perfect score and what a way to close an album? Such perfect song arrangement.

Another song that I absolutely adore on Mirrorwriting is the very inspiring “Spirits.” It feels like the album’s happy and life-affirming moment, if I’m allowed to call it that. Laced with rich drum patterns, reverbed “take em to church” harmonies and backing vocals, interjecting electronic arrangements and a beautifully uplifting chorus, “Spirits” is yet another brilliant showing from Jamie Woon of his musicality, songwriting dexterity and that lush falsetto of his.

Other highlights include “Shoulda” and “Echoes”; the former a sombre rendition about regret and running when you should have walked and walking when you should have run, with which Woon ponders in classic soul man fashion over minimalist synthesised chords, snares and bass guitar musical backdrops which can only be said to be subtly settled in electronic music. “Echoes,” on the other hand, sounds and feels like one hell of an organic groove which kicks off with simple xylophone sounds before entering into a glorious drum patterned crescendo, then calms into an airy spacey musical space filled with Woon’s eerily intriguing vocals that bring the song to a brilliant end.

Going further into the album, “Spiral” sees Jamie Woon in true R&B-lover territory, showcasing his delightfully strong vocals backed by a beautiful musical milieu led by a mixture of keyboard chords, acoustic and bass guitar riffs, interjected expertly with distorted and offbeat dubstep elements that come off very well-crafted. The solo-instrumental touch at the end there just does wonders for your aural senses.

“TMRW” is an up-tempo number backed by sharp violin arrangements, light repetitive drum patterns and bold yet rhythmic drum kicks, upon which Woon asks how we get through tomorrow everyday while confirming that we get through it anyway.

Overall Mirrorwriting is an exceptionally well put-together body of work that beautifully straddles the lines of R&B, Soul, Folk, Dubstep and Electronica but ultimately remains classic and timeless singer/songwriter music. With the exception of (and despite the inclusion of) “Street,” which feels like a rushed recording at some points with static musical arrangements that never really go anywhere with such a sour waste of such excellent song-writing and vocal showing and the jarringly monotonous “Middle,” Mirrorwriting is a hugely evocative, brilliantly soulful, deeply soothing and compelling project – Jamie Woon does have one hell of a debut record on his hands.

Jamie Woon – Mirrowriting
Released: April 18, 2011
Label: Polydor
Buy: iTunes UK / Amazon UK

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