It’s another ridiculously mild evening in London, equalled by the warm and convivial atmosphere in the Green Note, Camden. This is the sort of venue that generates repeat business because it’s run by people who love music and one where you need to get there early to secure a seat or be forced to find a spot where you’re not standing in front of someone who did. Oh, and the vegetarian food is great.
Tonight’s dessert is The Magic Lantern, or Jamie Doe as I expect he’s known to his parents. Jamie recently launched his latest album, Love Of Too Much Living, at the Catweazle Club in Oxford. He’s played a few venues in London but recent tweets from Jamie suggest he considers tonight a key event. Reading between the lines – difficult in 140 characters or less – they also showed a marked level of nerves that are completely banished as he opens his set with a voice-only update of 28 years old; he’s now 29. Vocal only set openers are a brave move, but Jamie’s voice is a beautiful mix of the fragile and fabulous, the honest appraisal of a young man’s steps into the wider world delivered as naturally as if he’s singing in the shower to the steam. Different Paths is introduced with a monologue on the expertise of his right-hand thumb, which does all the heavy lifting during the song, maintaining the rhythm on the top E string with minimal accompaniment from the other five. Methinks the nerves were a red herring.
This is song-writing that roams across many genres, taking in the free-flow of unstructured arrangements better known to jazz, the simple pastoral finger-picking of quintessentially English players like Thompson, Drake and Fay (though Jamie is Australian by birth, he’s been in Blighty for a long time), and the introspective messages of the confessional singers that kicked it all off in the late 60s and early 70s. Each song is a mini-overture to the craft of music lovingly rendered, and by dint of their perceived simplicity, free to audience interpretation as they see fit, creating an interaction between performer and recipient sadly lacking these days. I say perceived, because such craft does not come cheap; I imagine Jamie agonising over these pearls before they’re released for general consumption.
Harvest Moon is bucolic and comes with a joke about Neil Young and copyright. Stitches is dedicated to a friend and has loss running through every bar; Alice revels in melodies that spiral from repeating patterns. A new, as yet unnamed song delves further into jazz territory, passages coming and going, returning unexpectedly and always anchored by Jamie’s post-choir-boy tenor. Unwittingly stamping his credentials as a writer several notches up the ladder, an earlier song sung in French also shows he has a sense of humour, poking fun at a friend who lived across the Channel for a year, more affectionate than affected, charming rather than clever.
Keen to explore some of the stories behind the songs, Jamie breaks regularly to engage the crowd, inducing them to sing along or examining the rationale behind the lyrics. He finishes with the picked No One’s Fault, his voice reminiscent of Matthew Jay, and the simple insistent melody of Winter and its ‘..we might laugh and make amends / enjoy ourselves’. Overall, it’s a hugely accomplished offering, full of highly memorable tunes equally perfect for a Summer afternoon’s picnic or a Winter’s evening around a log fire, delivered with a side plate of humility and by an artist genuinely pleased to be on stage and connecting with the audience. Go and see him.
Review by: Paul Woodgate
Green Note, Camden | November 12, 2014
Also click here to watch Somewhere Safe To Sea a short film which premiered on FRUK about the life and times of Jamie Doe.
Out Now via Smugglers Records
19/11 – Bath Gallery, Bath
05/12 – House Show, Fife
10/12 – The Carlton Cinema, Westgate ^
11/12 – The Lighthouse, Deal ^
13/12 – Irregular Folk, Oxford
^with Alabaster DePlume