Monday, September 7

Jamie T- 'Kings 'N' Queens

. Monday, September 7

Two years ago Jamie T unleashed the stunning début album 'Panic Prevention', his ramshackle collection of songs about girls, drinking and debilitating panic attacks garnered rave reviews and acquired instant classic status. Two years on sees the release of 'Kings and Queens' and it appears Jamie has ditched his Beastie Boys records in favour for the football terraces.

Where 'Panic Prevention' was bursting at the seams with frantic energy and a desire to fit a hundred words a minute into every song 'Kings and Queens' is far more song based, slower and shows a greater emphasis on structure and melody than ever before. So instead of the machine gun fire of 'Salvador' or 'Pacemaker' you now have the likes of '368' and 'Man's Machine' which both boast a swaying, brothers in arms attitude that is both charming and endearing. '368' is particularly affecting, coming on like a cross between The Smith's 'Bigmouth Strikes Again' crossed with Akon. That's not to say the street spirit has deserted Treays as this 'Kings and Queens' singles prove, the ratatat pace of 'Sticks 'n' Stones' and 'Chaka Demus' administer a timely injection of pace to proceedings throughout the record.

A true word smith Jamie T uses lyrics as an extra instrument, bending and wrapping his words around beats and melodies to the point that every vowel and consonant has its own sound and place- take one away and the whole essence of a song such as the stunning 'Earth, Wind and Fire' would dissipate entirely. The key shift between 'Panic Prevention' and 'Kings and Queens' however is how laid back and relaxed everything feels. Where 'Panic Prevention' was taught and reflective of the claustrophobic nature of the attacks which inspired many of the songs 'Kings and Queens' sees Jamie two years on, medical worries gone and placed as crown prince of alternative pop music, hit album and Mercury nomination in hand. As a result there is more space to play in and choruses get room to breathe and grow. This is no more evident than on the stunning and intimate 'Emily's Heart', Jamie's open letter to a girl he wronged. It feels almost voyeuristic to listen to the acoustic apology but allowing the listener in on this provides the most emotional moment of 'Kings and Queens', a natural bed fellow to 'Calm Down Dearest' from the first record it's an album highlight.

'Kings and Queens' lacks the cultural cache of 'Panic Prevention' and doesn't come with the shock of emerging talent that album came with so in many ways it looks pale in comparison. However as a continuation of a massively exciting career it shows leaps and bounds in both song writing and emotional honesty that must surely put this Wimbledon troubadour at the very top of his game.


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