After a four year absence Jamie Woon returns with his newest helping since Mirrorwriting. Many will say that Woon just faded into obscurity after his first album as it just wasn’t good enough, but I strongly disagree. Mirrorwriting had an edge of down-tempo soul that seemed effortless for Woon, which is why his latest album Making Time is such a change. The main difference between then and now is that Woon has almost completely dropped the electronic/soul blend for a more organic sound with acoustic guitars and live instrumentation. Making Time is Woon stripped back.
This album suggests that Woon’s four year gap wasn’t just for the sake of it, no, he has spent the time becoming a better musician. As a classic singer-songwriter, Woon has given himself a new release of life with Making Time.
The album’s first single, ‘Sharpness’, was unveiled by world-class hitmaker Pharrell on his Beats-1 show. You can instantly tell it’s Woon, without it sounding much like anything he’s done before. Gone are the softly-laid vocals, and in is the more powerful harmonising. ‘Sharpness’ has that funk-style bassline that’s all so smooth. Suddenly you remember just how good Woon is.
‘Movement’ shows just how much our beloved Mr Woon has changed and developed his style. When talking to Pharrell he admitted that the electronic sound was not his main focus anymore, wanting a ‘funky rhythm section’, with his voice becoming the lead sound through his genius use of layering to give depth and a feel of passion. The use of powerfully driven baselines allow for Woon to really express himself in a way we haven’t heard before.[video:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8J0CjQjjy24]
Another high point of the album is ‘Celebration’. A laid back, chilled song featuring US folk singer Willy Mason. There’s a simpleness to this song, but it also has so much more going on. We can see that Woon’s ideals of songwriting have been preserved throughout his absence, but he’s now honed his skills using a live band with each section playing a vital role. The horn section is what makes the song, almost rousing it in a sense. From this we get the idea that Woon is establishing himself as a true musician and not some once promising act of his more obscure productions that had been labelled as post-dubstep with his other contemporaries.
Woon’s time off hasn’t been in vain, which is clear on ‘Thunder’. It has a sense of jazzy R&B that belongs in a few decades past. Nevertheless Woon pulls it off in a refreshing way. It hangs on edge of being a little too obscure, but Woon has found the balance, and isn’t that what makes a great musician?
A change in sound
Overall Jamie Woon has changed, and for many it’s normally a disaster to stray from what got you to where you are, but not for this man. 2011’s Mirrorwriting established Woon as a promising young talent with a fresh, new take on electronic production mixed with neo-soul, but that wasn’t enough. Although a great output, it would’ve been difficult to follow it up, for better or worse. Instead Woon has taken the time to understand his craft, stripping it back, almost putting more passion than ever into his work.
This time round the electronic sounds take a back seat as Woon utilises a live band to create a natural sound that works even better than earlier projects. Making Time isn’t a comeback by any means, because a musician like Woon can take four years back and still be relevant and he’s just proved it. Two words sum this album up; simply amazing.
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