I’m sure there are just as many, if not more, acoustic, solo, guitar slingers around now than there ever has been. Sadly in this age where anyone on a gap year feels the need, and sadly the entitlement, to be a musician, the increased musical traffic has not resulted in an upsurge in quality songs from exciting songwriters. Thankfully we have people like Jamie R Hawkins, a narrative driven songster who flies in the face of the transient acoustic pop wannabe I have just described.
Remember when songs said something, well something more than bedroom droning and of aspirations to be famous? Well, Jamie does and here he offers up another batch of songs forged from personal experience or at least personal observation. But more than that, they are songs that you can relate to, built around small kitchen sink dramas, universal emotions and everyday situations, honest stuff delivered with wit and wisdom and with his heart worn openly on his sleeve.
Jamie’s ability to handle a tune remains deft and confident and his poetic sense of place and situation remains strong and I’m glad to see that As Big As You made it to this album. Out of all of the familiar scenes and scenarios he conjures via his songs it is this reflection on what it means to both be a dad whilst trying to live up to the benchmark set by your own childhood memories, that is such a powerful song, the one that when I first heard it played live made me realise just what a eloquent lyrical pathway Jamie walks.
References abound, as they are always going to, not because he is sailing to close to any other artists wind but because the musical ship he has built to steer himself through the often difficult waters of being a career musician is both as sleek and practical as those employed by much bigger names. There is something of Paul Simon in the jaunt of the words and Neil Finn always crops up about this point in any review I write of Jamie’s music but I also get the sense that these are the sort of songs that should have been the hallmark of Paul McCartney’s later career.
Any new release from Jamie is looked forward too and this certainly doesn’t disappoint, but it goes further than that. It reminds you that on any given night amongst all the glitzy arena shows at one extreme and the Ed Sheeran wannabes playing to their mates at the other, if you search hard enough you will find a small pack of grass roots musicians delivering charming, clever and often beautiful songs about the human condition. Go and say hi to them, buy a CD, help them on their way…or at least help them earn the petrol money home, one of them might be Jamie and one day you will turn on the TV and be able to say, “see that guy there, I remember him when….”