Review Summary: Woon's debut album contains no surprises but it lives up to all the hype that has already developed.
At the start of the year I had become obsessed with Jamie Woon. I had been amazed by Jamie Woon’s video performance of ‘Spirits’ and after listening to ‘Wayfaring Stranger’ and ‘Night Air’ I had become a fan. Thus, his debut album Mirrorwriting has been very much eagerly awaited. After various EPs and the recognition that the BBC had given him, I was not the only one very much excited by this debut LP release. The pre LP release of ‘Lady Luck’ further fuelled the anticipation. And now, here we are, the first LP review.
Woon’s skills are here for all to see – his stunningly beautiful soul voice, his love of RnB, the influence of dubstep producers like Burial, his guitar playing and a desire to make catchy pop songs. His fusion of dubstep, soul, funk and pop music creates this set of very good songs, each with its own emphasis, which flow effortless and through each other, held together by his stunning voice. Each song is addictive and sticks in the mind. The album contains many songs from previous EPs and thus there is an already established familiarity with the album – it is more a compilation of the last few years work rather than a completely new set of songs. ‘Night Air’ with its bending dubstep bass opens up the album while ‘Spirits’ , with its multi-layered vocals but more shuffled drum and bass drums than in the noted video, are pre-heard highlights of the album. ‘Spirals’ reappears, somehow making dubstep sound soulful. ‘Echoes’ too reappears, though it is the only song on the album which is a bit difficult to be enthused by.
There are new songs as well though. The single ‘Lady Luck’ with its funky singing over RnB clicks and falsetto choruses creates a real sense of boogie. ‘Middle’ again exhibits RnB influence and flows into a very poppy chorus – the chorus with its repeated lyrics of ‘I can’t get enough of your love’ being one of the more clichéd moments in the album. Yet this is pop with substance and heartfelt soul which is always bought together by Woon’s exceptional voice.
The album can be seen to be a very strong pop album and, as is currently in vogue, it uses the sounds of previously underground genres to give it its edge. But, it would be wrong to compare him to the others who are supposedly doing similar things. This is no minimalist, post dubstep album. He is not to be compared to James Blake and to compare him to Jessie J would just be insulting. The soul, funk and RnB influences, which have influenced so much of pop for so long, are too integral to this album for such comparisons. Indeed the album is not particularly unprecedented and it is not to be seen as some revolutionary piece. Instead it is a set of very good pop songs that can be seen as being of its time but as reinventing the sound of its time.