It’s been four-and-half-years since the release of Jamie Woon’s acclaimed debut, Mirrorwriting, an intimate and forward-thinking collection of R&B songs; and he’s been working ever since. With the release of new album Making Time, all of his patience and effort have paid off brilliantly in the shape of a great modern British soul record, featuring ten beautifully crafted, emotionally rich songs.
Born in 1983, Jamie grew up in the SW London suburb of New Malden. He picked up the acoustic guitar at 15 and started writing songs inspired by Britpop guitar bands before before DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing… led him to discover the soul music that remains his strongest influence. After attending the BRIT School studying music, Jamie put in several years on the open mic singer-songwriter circuit. In 2007 he released his first independent single Wayfaring Stranger, a nod to his mother, folk singer Mae McKenna.
Wayfaring Stranger came with a haunting remix by Burial. This linkup led to them collaborating together on what became Jamie’s debut album, Mirrorwriting, a striking and nocturnal collection of electronic soul released in 2011. By chance, though, its release coincided with the birth of a number of new sub-genres and Jamie was assigned to the nebulous category of “post-dubstep”.
The last few years have been a collaborative time for Jamie; between albums, he sang on records by Disclosure, Paul White and Portico as his instinct led him to seek out a range of artists with whom he sensed an affinity for rhythm. He wrote the first single, Sharpness, in Los Angeles with Robin Hannibal of Rhye and Quadron. It’s an effortless and tender song that suggests Marvin Gaye jamming with the yacht rock set, interrupted by a thrilling raw synth bass, and was premiered enthusiastically by Pharrell on his Beats 1 radio show.
Despite the more organic sound, Jamie hasn’t left club-influenced music totally behind, along with Sharpness, he’s made some of his most danceable music to date. The dense funk of Forgiven was influenced by the kind of records Floating Points and Theo Parrish would play at London’s much-missed Plastic People club. Movement’s thick, muscular groove explores the idea of dancing as therapy.
The narrative arc of Making Time reflects Jamie’s evolution while making it. Doubts and worries are addressed and overcome. New connections are made. The result is a singular demonstration of pure artistry: unhurried, uncompromised and unignorable. Time well spent…