Jamie Woon's 'Mirrorwriting'

Updated: 20 Apr 2012

Time Out says

Rating: 3/5

Imagine walking into a room where Michael Jackson, in his nineties ballad phase, is hanging out with the French electro band Air and the British dubstep maestro Burial. Then Jamie Woon walks in and asks them to form an R&B band with him, while his mum – a Celtic folk singer –pops in to offer everyone drinks.

This surreal set-up pretty much sums up Jamie Woon’s ‘Mirrorwriting’. It’s a strange piece of work, layering sounds and styles in the way that only a twenty-first century musician armed with a laptop could. But perhaps the strangest thing is that for all its musical influences, what we have in the end is essentially a pop album – something which would be at home in the ‘Easy Listening’ section of a CD store (back when those existed).

The young British singer, who is half Malaysian Chinese, was shortlisted for the BBC’s Sound of 2011 and his debut album has been eagerly anticipated. But despite the hype, the album is an understated affair. Woon’s crooning voice keeps the listener lulled, while the layers of acoustic chords and electronic beats sound like the dazed distractions of an insomniac. It’s an album I could definitely fall asleep to, although I’m not sure if that’s a good thing.

At times, the production feels a little too laboured – little wonder, considering four years of work went into it. But Woon’s mastery emerges in tracks like ‘Spiral’, where everything comes together effortlessly. ‘Waterfront’, too, is beautifully pared down, with its simple refrain, ‘Seems no one likes to be rained on.’ It’s probably a reference to Woon’s native London, but we hope that the Malaysian in him is remembering monsoons too. Ling Low