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Jamie T’s Carry on the Grudge

Posted on the 15 October 2014 by Thewildhoneypie @thewildhoneypie

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If you’re unfamiliar with the work of Jamie T then now is the perfect opportunity to become acquainted with both the man and his music. After a five year hiatus, the London-born multi-instrumentalist has returned with his third full-length LP, Carry on the Grudge — a record which for many (myself included) came with towering expectations.

Despite the prolonged gap since his last outing, there are flashes of familiarity scattered throughout that pick up where Jamie left off. He’s still intertwining guitar sounds with elements of other genres (albeit with more subtlety), and he’s still bending his vocals somewhere between tender melodies and a punk rock growl. However, the big difference to be seen, and more importantly heard, is the sense of maturity the album boasts.

Musically the compositions sound tighter and there’s more instrumentation, including heavier guitar tones and even string arrangements. Plus from a production standpoint his music sounds bolder, more fleshed out and more confident than before. Despite the stockier framework, a lot of the material on Carry on the Grudge is fleet of foot — it’s a record with a number of shuffling, dance-inducing moments, but more predominantly, it’s a record that sings its heart out and urges you to follow suit. Jamie T’s never been one to shy away from hooks and catchy intersections, but here it’s become a craft which has been intensely polished. The best example of which comes with the second single, “Zombie”, which is quite fittingly nothing short of infectious.

The method of delivery is only half the story, though. Of all the positive tweaks which litter his long-awaited comeback, it’s Jamie’s songwriting that might be the most impressive. There’s still the same salt-of-the-earth, tongue-in-cheek demeanor to his lyricism that initially captured people’s attention, only now his writing comes with a more personal flavor as it cuts a little closer to the bone. Five years is a long time between two points, and whatever happened along the way has clearly provided mixed feelings, feelings which are unashamedly worn upon the singers sleeve. “Mary Lee” is an earnest dissection of heartache and love lost while the introduction of “Peter” shows quite literally a different side to the songwriter — one that is angry and embittered. Then, “Love is Only a Heartbeat Away” and the closer, “They Told Me it Rained”, play to more hopeful and melancholic territories with a grounded, humanistic approach. The wider spectrum of tone and externalized thoughts make for a fascinating box of introspection, carefully but unreservedly laid out for all to hear. Combine this with a richer musicality built upon dynamic ideas, and you have not only a candidate for comeback of the year, but a contender for album of the year as well.


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