MONDAY, AUGUST 01, 2011 |
Posted by: Michael Washington
On his arrival last year, Jamie Woon seemed poised to make usefulness of the same minimalistic aesthetics that catapulted The XX and James Blake to stardom. His woozy single Night Air accompanied by a even darker Burial remix gave notion that Woon—a Brit School alumnus—was of dubstep origin. On his debut album Mirrorwriting though, those beliefs get quickly sent off. More than anything else, Jamie Woon is a pop artist. Pop in the sense of old school R&B stylings mixed with electronic effects of today. His sound forms a sort of happy medium between mainstream and underground type music—utilizing sub-bass frequencies in his production but never letting it be the main focal point. Where artists like James Blake and Jamie Woon differ, is that the aforementioned type use their vocals to merely add to the more highly stressed bass productions, where as Woon uses his beautiful voice to take center stage on his songs and never let go of the spotlight.
Woon's debut LP Mirrorwriting features the Brit bringing in a truck load of soul over suitably nocturnal production. Mirrorwriting is a solitary walk through a deserted city night, a remote look into ones own feeling and self regret. "Shoulda", one of the albums many highlights, showcases this subject perfectly. Over an ambient backdrop full of underlying bass, Woon sings about the remorse for not doing all the things he "shoulda" done. The song "Street" follows in this same suit, using a serene beat for Woon to state his woes: "You can try on anything for free/pick up anything you need/and I'm wishing you were here with me/walking on a city street." Tracks like "Lady Luck" and "Middle" showcase the singer's great since of melody, as well as further proving the strength of his songwriting. "Echoes", with its crashing drums and haunting effects, sees Woon singing his most soulful falsetto, becoming an obvious favorite for best single track on the album. But with so much quality—the overwhelming swing feel of "TMRW", the agony of "Gravity" and the simplicity of "Waterfront"—one can't help but describe Mirrorwriting as a wonderful body of work overall and an extremely strong debut.
Mirrorwriting is a lot of things—intelligent, truthful, lovable, and even devastating at times. But what really strikes home with this album is the strong point it is in the advancement of R&B. Woon has created a record that tests the boundaries of the mainstream and the underground, and has came out victorious. An album that can thoroughly respected in both worlds. Whether you're a lover of the poppy soundings of Adele or the sub-bass croonings of James Blake, this is an album that can be loved by everyone.