Jamie Woon review – triumphant reinvention as a transfixing soul man

Scala, London
Jamie Woon erases any thoughts of past career false starts with an exquisite set of precise and soulful R&B

Jamie Woon may be set for a second coming. Initially pinned as a post-dubstep take on Jeff Buckley when he first appeared in 2011, the London singer-songwriter abruptly vanished off the radar when his somewhat underwhelming debut album, Mirrorwriting, fell short of this ambitious advance critical billing.

Four years down the line, Woon is returning with a vastly superior follow-up, Making Time, which demonstrates just how misguided his initial categorisation was. Far from being a purveyor of faddish electronica, Woon now convincingly presents as a classic soul man, crafting brilliantly questing R&B songs about the inarticulate speech of the heart.

He freely confesses to the influence of D’Angelo on his new material, and tonight, backed by a tight band and two male backing vocalists, he resembles that neo-soul alchemist with his alluring waywardness supplanted by forensic discipline. Woon is no showman but he is a transfixing presence, patently in thrall to a hushed yet vivacious R&B that knows that soul is not about how loudly feelings are expressed, but how precisely.

At times his wisp of a voice is a husk, a languid murmur, yet when he inserts himself into the heft and weave of Aaliyah’s Try Again, it fits him like a second skin. Woon’s artistry is all about subtlety and restraint, yet on the wistfully yearning Shoulda he pours the self-doubt of a long, dark night of the soul into exquisite deep-house pop to intoxicating effect.

Pharrell has expressed large enthusiasm for Woon’s current single, Sharpness, and it is easy to see why: it is a lubricious slice of fantastical sex-funk, as self-aware and audacious as Prince. This time around, it looks as if this consummate craftsman may really be on to something.

Watch the video for Jamie Woon’s Sharpness


Ian Gittins

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Jamie Woon: Making Time review – back with soul and pared-back purpose
He took his time but the London-born singer-songwriter has come up with a crisp second album

Killian Fox

08, Nov, 2015 @8:00 AM

Jamie Woon – review
The audience seem to like Woon best when he abandons experimentation for straightforward pop, writes Alexis Petridis

Alexis Petridis

09, Jun, 2011 @4:11 PM

Article image
Jamie Woon: Making Time review – excellent, soul-styled second album
Jamie Woon shifts away from the dancefloor somewhat on his terrific, soulful second album

Lanre Bakare

05, Nov, 2015 @10:00 PM

Article image
Jamie Woon – review

An elusive post-dubstepper who loops his own voice to haunting effect, Jamie Woon is an intriguing talent and one to watch in 2011, says Kitty Empire

Kitty Empire

28, Nov, 2010 @12:09 AM

Article image
Jamie Woon: 'It's hard to be funky if you're English'
As this year’s BBC Sound of poll longlist is announced, former nominee discusses how to swerve the hype, overcome an identity crisis, and his nu-soul album, Making Time

Harriet Gibsone

30, Nov, 2015 @1:42 PM

Jamie Woon: Mirrorwriting - review
Don't be misled by the minimalism, says Hazel Sheffield, Jamie Woon's debut is slick but uninventive

Hazel Sheffield

14, Apr, 2011 @9:39 PM

Article image
New band of the day – No 903: Jamie Woon
Paul Lester: You'll love the dark side of the Woon, a Brit School singer-songwriter moving towards dubstep. But his smoother songs ...

Paul Lester

05, Nov, 2010 @5:34 PM

Article image
Five albums to try this week: Jamie Woon, Floating Points and more
Stream new albums, from Katy Carr’s jazzy folk to Bill Ryder-Jones’ gentle alt-rock, and let us know what you’ll be listening to

Tshepo Mokoena

09, Nov, 2015 @10:50 AM

Article image
Jamie Woon at SXSW 2011 - review

Despite seeming an odd fit at SXSW, Jamie Woon and his precision-drilled backing band get the festival crowd moving, writes Tim Jonze

Tim Jonze

16, Mar, 2011 @4:55 PM

Jamie Woon: Mirrorwriting – review
Jamie Woon's cutting-edge debut risks being seen as too commercial for the dubstep in-crowd yet too challenging for the mainstream, writes Kitty Empire

Kitty Empire

16, Apr, 2011 @11:05 PM