Album Review: Jamie Woon – Making Time

By on Tuesday, 24th November 2015 at 12:00 pm
 

Words by Rebecca Clayton

Jamie Woon Making Time cover‘Making Time’ is Jamie Woon’s second album and comes over 4 years after his debut ‘Mirrorwriting’, which was released back in 2011 to mixed reviews. So far just one single has been released from the new album, the catchy ‘Sharpness’ (Mary’s previous In the Post feature on the song here), which embodies the less is more spirit that echoes throughout the rest of the album. The singer/songwriter from London has managed to produce something difficult to place: one minute were hearing the scratchy drawl of Willy Mason on a brass-accented acoustic track, the next you’re bopping along to some smooth soul vibes and echoes of old-school r&b.

It’s mellower than his previous stuff: you won’t hear much of the electronica influence that is present on earlier songs ‘Night Air’, ‘Lady Luck’, or ‘Shoulda’. Perhaps some fans will find this disappointing, but this still feels like a step forwards: holding on to the trip hop/soul infusion of previous stuff but bringing something different and fresh to the table. That’s why this album has the air of evolution about it, drawing on much of what was great about Woon’s earlier work but smoothing out the edges a little bit. There are certain adjectives that you can’t help but use when describing the album: soulful, smooth, mellow, chilled. It’s easy listening.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S1jVLVATUo4[/youtube]

But, that’s not to be confused with unexciting or dull. The opening track ‘Message’, for example, is stirring, the gentle build of the song’s opening with Woon’s vocals effortlessly fusing into the song alongside the minimalistic piano notes. ‘Skin’ also has a mesmerising opening to the track. The use of autotune brings a surprising depth to the song, paired well with the soulful oohs that reverberate throughout, like a lullaby.

Woon’s strong yet sultry vocals are predominate and hold centre stage throughout the album, complemented by the soulful undertones. The instruments are controlled and often times subtle, used to complement Woon’s voice rather than mask it. The lyrics really are quite lovely. From the opening lines of ‘Skin’ (“skin with its open agenda / rise to the top for some air”) to “light into darkness / cut on the sharpness of you” on ‘Sharpness’ (Woon’s most played song on Spotify), the lyrics have a physical feel to them, evoking nature and human connection.

It’s easy to hear echoes of Frank Ocean throughout Jamie Woon’s album, in particular the opening track ‘Message’, with Woon’s smooth voice lapping alongside the soulful music like murmuring waves. The whole album, at various times, is wonderfully reminiscent of ’90s r&b, I’m particularly thinking of R Kelly’s warbling vocals and the stripped back use of instruments in much of his music. Woon’s vocal ability lends well to the tracks. Some songs, such as ‘Celebration’ and ‘Sharpness’, are standouts. ‘Celebration’ is distinctly different to the rest of the album: it was a nice surprise to hear Willy Mason’s gravely tones on this track, paired with the bursts of brass, the jangly acoustic notes and the soft tempo of the drums marching along. On the previously mentioned ‘Sharpness’, at times throughout the song it’s easy to hear Daft Punk, Frank Ocean and Jamiroquai, and perhaps that’s why I like it so much. It sounds so familiar, while still being different, and won me round straight away.

Admittedly, a couple of songs, like ‘Lament’ and ‘Forgiven’ are pleasant enough to hear, but don’t really leave a distinct impression. But, as an overall collection, it really does work. It’s well crafted. This is an archetypal chill-out album, great for a lazy afternoon at home or to be left purring away in the background at work. The lyrics are beautiful, the melodies soulful and classic. On a couple of the tracks there’s a little something left to be desired, but, having said that, I love it, and have been playing my favourite songs non-stop. If it didn’t get me there on the first listen, but it really did on the second.

7.5/10

Jamie Woon’s ‘Making Time’ is out now on PMR Records; Woon will be on tour in the UK in March 2016. For all past coverage on Jamie Woon on TGTF, head here.

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