Local Record Review: Jameson, From Santa Ana

Categories: Beat Blvd.
Shuffling Click EP

The original home location Jameson Burt gave on his MySpace page was "a cave in Santa Ana," though he's since abandoned the company of stalagmites for Los Angeles. Perhaps it's not surprising he's played shows at La Cave in Costa Mesa before.

Jameson's debut EP was recorded before he made the move; the veteran of acts such as Echo Echo holds to a familiar set of touchstones, such as Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell and, perhaps inevitably, Bob Dylan. It's an understandable pantheon to draw on for a solo singer/songwriter, but the trick is moving out of those shadows--and perhaps not for nothing is one song titled "Something Old Wrapped In Something New."

​As a result, Shuffling Click has the kind of combination of skilled playing and deep reverence for what's gone before that can be heard across much of the sonic spectrum these days. Jameson's ace in the hole is his and his collaborators' ear for sonic sculpture that maintains an air of haunted melancholy, even if it's as simple as some echo on the vocals to make it seem like he's actually singing inside a cave, as on the intimate track "Let You Be." If "Give Your Body to Me" has a title and sentiment that maybe only Tim Buckley could ever fully sell, the combination of subtle backing tracks and vocals, rough handclaps and Jameson's own yearning vocals works elegantly. That he then immediately contrasts that style of singing with a softer, moodier vocal at the start of "Something Old Wrapped In Something New" is an inspired touch, as is the quiet, steady pulse of the arrangement that builds subtly into an energetic chorus.

On the EP's best all-around moment, the arrangement comes together during the heartwrecked "Not Ex Plain," in which the comparison point shifts to a more recent figure -- Richard Ashcroft during the Verve's mid-'90s days, when songs such as "On Your Own" and "History" captured a rich mournfulness that complemented his ambition instead of being consumed by it. If this is what Jameson's future points to, then it's reason to keep our ears open.

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