AWOL artist makes good on initial potential...
'Making Time'

Be honest - you'd forgotten all about Jamie Woon, hadn't you? He was one of the bright, new hopes of 2011, but his debut album, 'Mirrorwriting', didn't pack quite enough of a punch. Most of the time, it was too ponderous and too safe, and when it wasn't, it sounded like a substandard Justin Timberlake tribute act. As a result, it disappeared from view almost as soon as it was released.

A ruptured Achilles later that year didn't help matters and, a guest spot on Disclosure's 'Settle' album aside, he's been largely silent since. However, in his absence, his particular brand of downtempo, considered, night-time soul has flourished, with acts such as Jessie Ware, SBTRKT and Banks taking it into the mainstream.

Therefore, arguably this is the perfect time for Jamie Woon to relaunch his career and, happily, 'Making Time' makes good on the promise of his early singles and EPs. The trademarks are all still there – the gently yearning vocals, the precise beats, the layers of reverb – but there's a little something extra this time around. He's matured both as a singer and a songwriter, and the tracks now have the hooks to make them linger in the memory rather than fade away instantaneously.

'Making Time' is a solid album, but it's elevated even further by the presence of closing track, 'Dedicated'. It begins slowly over tight percussion and woozy synth stabs, but by the time we're at the chorus and its hypnotic refrain ("Dedicated to the never-known / Dedicated to another love"), the strings envelop you like a comforting blanket. Woon continues to build textures and layers so that by the time it revisits that haunting refrain for the outro, it's confirmed its status as one of the tracks of 2015. Rarely has such a long break done someone so much good.

8/10

Words: Joe Rivers

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