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One to watch – Jamie Woon

March 21, 2011

Jamie Woon is one of a wave of new artists to be thrust into the public eye, lauded for his multifarious musical stylings which seem to sway between singer songwriter/guitarist, R&B/soul singer, DJ/dubstep artist, to name but a few. You could call him the most recent picture-boy for the intermingling preferences of today’s young audiophiles; broadening musical tastes, and affiliations, have had a profound influence on both artists and listeners. Artists have access to collaborations they might never have happened upon, and previously genre-specific publications now cast a wider net to include an expanded range of music, and of course love to focus on the metamorphosing sounds that I too am dedicating my attention to. This is typified in the most excellent way by the self-confessed lover/performer of dubstep, soul, R&B and guitar: Jamie Woon.

Jamie Woon – Night Air

With his debut album release imminent, I feel it’s time to bring your attention to this Brit School graduate from New Malden. It is fair to say he’s been around for some time now: his major label debut, Mirrorwriting, will be released on 11th April on Polydor records, a hefty four years after his previous single, ‘Wayfaring Stranger’.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love a good genre-defying artist. Something that sounds typically unique yet nostalgic at the same time; an amalgamation of things past yet also sounds fresh and new. Jamie crafts his own sound, fluently interweaving soul, dubstep and R&B as if they belonged together (I’m sorry I keep mentioning these same genres, but it’s true!). Indeed it may be the logical evolution of contemporary music; a modern musician shares a sliver of their mindset with that of a geneticist, in that they can pick and choose the bits that suit them best, creating a sound that utilises both new and old techniques. Or, you might create a monster.

Needless to say, it must have been a long journey since releasing his first 12″ on the edge of obscurity back in 2007, to the present day where he’s now on the verge of mainstream success with his debut album. This transition was no doubt aided by a fantastic remix of the aforementioned ‘Wayfaring Stranger’ (itself a re-imagining of a traditional British folk song) by Burial, released on local label “Live Recordings” to a small London audience, with the remix later becoming quite a success in its own right (Burial’s popularity in the dubstep/mainstream community is another story altogether). Jamie has said himself being a successful musician is his dream: being the son of a Celtic folk singer and growing up with his mother constantly collaborating with different types of musician clearly had a marked effect on him.

Jamie Woon – Wayfaring Stranger (Burial Remix)

However, it’s the toil of manipulating his tracks for almost four years before feeling ready to release an album that speaks volumes for the perseverance and precision of Jamie Woon. He graduated from the Brit School the year after Amy Winehouse (a fact he is no doubt needlessly reminded of), but probably has more in common with his housemates in Clapton, East London: Portico Quartet. Word has it that they would spend hours together with music editing software on their MacBooks, fine-tuning their songs over and over until they agreed they were just right.

The Portico influence is clear on songs such as Echoes, with Jamie’s twisting lyrics floating above rhythmic xylophones and equally dark synth-bass. But a darker, deeper feeling is afoot, with many of his lyrics lamenting about his problems, whilst his vocals are lofty and almost angelic, giving the songs an intensely moody and foreboding feel.

Jamie Woon – Echoes

Although he released his first EP back in 2007, it’s not until recently that he’s been gathering a whirlwind of attention, having been Shortlisted for BBC sound of 2011 (but finishing 4th behind Jessie J). If last year’s Burial co-produced single ‘Night Air’ set the scene, his new release ‘Lady Luck’ drives home what Woon is all about: fusion of soul and R&B with dubstep beats, topped of by his haunting vocals creating an intense atmosphere, and tunes which will make you move, and yearn for more. Given the current hype surrounding him, it won’t be long before his position as one of the pioneering British musicians of the coming decade is assured. ‘Spirals’, an old track rerecorded to feature on his upcoming album, shows another side of Woon’s talent with a light guitar over a deep lingering beat as he invites us to “Come on and make my heart a dancer”.

Blue Truth, one of the more dubstep-py tunes Woon has revealed, is one of my highlights of his back catalogue, which will shockingly not be included on the album (since the tracklisting was revealed a few days ago) but long term fans will be appeased since ‘Gravity‘, the chilling barebones guitar & vocals track from his 2007 EP, is to be reprised.

Jamie Woon – Lady Luck

I reiterate my sentiments that Jamie Woon is definitely one worth watching. Listen to the 5-track album sampler on Spotify, or wait until the album drops on 11th April, or catch him on on tour in June.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Chris Bingo permalink
    March 23, 2011 8:28 pm

    Right. Possibly the best new artist I’ve heard this year next to ol’ James Blake and he possibly JUST beats him past the post just because of the upbeat nature of the songs. Possibly.

    I’m usually a sucker for vocals and there is no doubt in my mind that James Blake’s fragile whisperings won me over from the first time I heard them…and in that area Woon doesn’t QUITE win me over. But I do love what he is doing with his music and style. Provided his album keeps the interest levels up and doesn’t whimper out toward the end (sorry Mr Blake…) then could well be onto a winner here. Cheers Robbie.

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