Croydonian jazz-popper Jamie Isaac is ready with a second album proper in (4:30) Idler. This one is largely informed by the young fellow’s troubles with insomnia, as evidenced by such sober titles as ‘Doing Better’, ‘Maybe’ and indeed, ‘Sleep’. Vintage synth electronica and R&B cling to a jazzy frame, allowing confessional weariness to coexist with warm pop hooks.
Staff note from Clinton:
I love Jamie Isaac. His music has a lovely chilled atmosphere using jazz influenced chords, and classic songwriter moves. Somewhere between James Blake, King Krule, Chet Baker and Stevie Wonder perhaps. I need to listen to the whole thing before forming an opinion here but lead track 'Maybe' though brilliantly produced is heading into more commercial territory as is 'Doing Better' with a fuller sound and dare I say.....Jami....no I won't say it.
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I so much wanted to like this as I love his previous album 'Couch Baby' and the even better earlier EPs and I do enjoy it to a degree but....
It's one of those records that both exemplifies the skill of the artist but also frustratingly shows what might have been with better choices. First up - he has a glorious, glorious sound. All jazzy chords, beautiful voice, Martini-dashed percussion and the soft summer sounds drifting up from the wine bar below. But in busying his sound, something here is lacking from the deep soulful melancholy of his earlier work. Tracks like 'Maybe' are brilliantly produced and well constructed jazz-pop miniatures but when it reaches the chorus and despite the brilliant percussion and joyful saxophones I just feel Isaac is sailing too close to Jamiroquai territory for comfort.
There's some beautiful sounds here though - the title track is a delight though slightly overcooked. The piano keys and vocal melody are Isaac at his best but I feel the track has had too much applied to it and so the melody nestling within has been swallowed up by all manner of production ticks and ephemera. Elsewhere he has lost some of his aching sadness - the fact he is now playing with a band has diluted his sound somewhat and certain tracks are simply perky and nice rather than moving.
Always a tricky one when you have to leave behind an artist you admire. He's moved too far to the mainstream for my enjoyment with this album it's still him but...um..less so.. like he's been polished and scrubbed into a shinier sleeker and yes blander version of himself - one which may get him some success but has resulted in some character being lost.
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- (04:30) Idler by Jamie Isaac
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