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Jamie T - Panic Prevention

Jamie T, Panic Prevention

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2.5 out of 5

CALL them urban street poets, DIY musicians or MC/producers but the music scene is rife with talented young artists going for broke on their own and sticking two fingers up to standard pop conventions.

Mike Skinner’s The Streets provided a springboard for artists such as Dizzee Rascal and Plan B to make a name for themselves by wrapping hard-hitting, straight talking tales of their own backgrounds with home-made beats.

And now we have Jamie T, aka James Treays, one of 2007’s biggest breakthrough hopes. Thanks to chart-friendly hits If You Got The Money and Calm Down Dearest, Jamie is approaching something close to a household name. And it’s hard not to be impessed with his endeavour even when the music doesn’t satisfy as wholly as it might.

Panic Prevention, his debut album, paints a sincere picture of his own teenage social adventure growing up around the Wimbledon area. It’s brutally honest, utterly British and clearly inspired by the likes of The Clash, Billy Bragg and Mike Skinner.

Instrumentally, it’s mostly constructed around cheap drum-machine beats and acoustic guitar riffs, with the odd sample of street life thrown in. Standing tall over everything, meanwhile, are Jamie’s stark vocals – rough, raw, unapologetic, punky and strained. It’s both the album’s strength and its weakness.

Just occasionally, the rough style grates. It’s a little too DIY. Tracks such as Calm Down Dearest have a smooth, chart-friendly sheen that’s worlds away from the rawness of Operation and Pacemaker.

Sheila, another former single, takes its cues from the sort of world inhabited by Blur’s Parklife, albeit with an electronic pulse doubling for the guitars of Damon Albarn and Graham Coxon. It’s cheeky, it’s brutally honest and it deals with some hard-hitting issues (alcoholics and ne’er do wells), yet lays down an utterly infectious melody that makes it radio friendly.

It’s this as much as anything that impress about Jamie T. He cleverly manipulates his music into something that can still be enjoyed by the masses even though it doesn’t conform to any one particular genre.

For all the hype surrounding him, though, one still suspects that his best is yet to come. Panic Prevention contains as many bad tracks as it does good ones and the singles tend to pick themselves.

So, while there’s no denying the quality of If You Got The Money and Calm Down Dearest, other tracks such as the aching rawness of the Clash-inspired Dry Off Your Cheeks or the aggressive questioning of Alicia Keys tend to wear you down.

Just because it’s real and honest doesn’t necessarily make it the stuff of great music. Hence, Jamie T gets a fair amount oof praise for effort and perseverence, but Panic Prevention is by no means the finished article.

Track listing:

  1. Brand New Bass Guitar
  2. Salvador
  3. Calm Down Dearest
  4. So Lonely Was The Ballad
  5. Back In The Game
  6. Operation
  7. Sheila
  8. Pacemaker
  9. Dry Off Your Cheeks
  10. Ike And Tina
  11. If You Got The Money
  12. Alicia Quays