Review: Jamie T – Carry on the Grudge

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After a five-year hiatus, the south London street poet Jamie Treays, who made his name with a fast paced, quick-witted, grimy rap style is back with his new album: Carry on the Grudge. However, it is impossible to miss the distinctive, yet possibly inevitable, change in style.

When Jamie T released ‘Don’t You Find’, the first single of the album, he told Zane Lowe “I like the melancholy of it”, which, to the disappointment of some fans, is a theme that Jamie T carries throughout the rest of the album.

It soon becomes apparent that this is not going to be another Kings and Queens, and if you’re looking for an album that is full of hits like ‘Sticks and Stones’ then you’re going to be let down. Despite this, if you are willing to listen to this album with the understanding that someone will have changed in five years, there is still plenty of substance to be had. One thing that is instantly apparent is the reflective and dark nature of the album. The low tempo style that is adopted definitely seems to communicate the dark and melancholic themes better than Jamie T’s earlier style ever could. Even with songs such as ‘Zombie’, the second single of the album, which takes a more familiar playful tone, there are still undertones of the bleak themes of lost love and despair. With lyrics such as “I know what she thinks when she looks at me, when she looks with such despair” it is clear to see that Jamie T is trying to express some more mature and deep ideas of love and regret. This is something that is much more evident in ‘Mary Lee’, a charming ballad of lost love.

The overriding distinction that can be made between Carry on the Grudge and his earlier albums is of the introverted approach that he has never taken before. There is a sense that Jamie T is attempting to express his own psychological unrest and experiences to a larger extent then before. In songs such as ‘Peter’ for instance, there is a feeling of real anger and frustration that Jamie is clearly trying to vent.

The problem that most fans will have with this album is that it just doesn’t sound like Jamie T. There is a sense that he has lost that south London edge that caught our imagination in the first place. On the other hand, to say that this means the album is terrible is simply not true, by any stretch of the imagination. This is an album that takes a new direction for an extremely talented solo artist that may not be to everyone’s taste, but does not diminish the talent that is exhibited. Although not for everyone, Jamie’s die-hard fans will inevitably love it, and any one who has never heard of Jamie T may enjoy it for its individual merits, in spite of his earlier material.

3 stars

 

Carry on the Grudge was released on 29th September 2014.

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