It’s hard to believe it’s been four years since Jamie Woon’s stellar debut ‘Mirrowriting’. It is also a testament to that album’s strength that Woon, fresh off the back of exactly no new solo material in that yawning expanse of time, has just leapt back into focus with 3’28” of startling ‘Sharpness’. Hearing that wonderful, soulful falsetto anew for the first time in too long reminds me how much I’ve missed it. But the return doesn’t seem a hackneyed revival for the sake of selling a few digital copies. Rather, ‘Sharpness’, as its name suggest, is a statement of intent from Woon who is back with the same vocal chops but a rejuvenated outlook on the neo-RnB scene he helped launch all those years ago.
What hits you first about ‘Sharpness’ is the seeming impossibility of the contradiction that lies at its foundation: this is a song that is both effortless and astoundingly polished. Perhaps as a result of his impeccable BRIT School pedigree or the obvious time he has spent dedicated to his craft, Woon never really feels like he’s come out of first gear on this one. As a songwriter and as a recording artist, this is all second nature to Jamie – or at least he makes it feel that way. Following in his, and the rest of the recent British RnB vanguard’s wake, has been a rash of acts trying their best at verisimilitude but the results, somehow, have always indicated that trying was at their core. What is refreshing about Woon, especially after this extended hiatus, is the natural quality of his work; this is not studied nonchalance to hoodwink the masses.
That air of ease is at odds with how excellent, full and complete this track sounds in your ears. As much as this might be a walk in the park for Woon, the park, frequented by Quadron, Rhye and Jamie Lidell at times, sounds glorious. There is nothing particularly groundbreaking about Woon’s musical accompaniment but it is the way the low key lounge vibes, sometimes joined by synths for added intensity, seem to work with his voice, the two perfectly balanced, that distinguishes his efforts from a host of also-rans. Woon was built for this music, he feels at home in it, and it’s a happy day when we get to invite this sonic warmth into ours again.
Jamie Woon – Sharpness