Jamie T - Panic Prevention
Georgie O'Toole 28/01/2007
Jamie T's album had been hyped in that quiet way, where it's given just enough press to create a small ripple, in the hopes that the public tidal wave will carry the album off into popular oblivion and then critics will be able to bellow 'WE TOLD YOU SO' over the ensuing tsunami. Tipped to 'do something big' by just about everyone in the music industry (ever) last year, 2007 should be the year of the 20 year old troubadour if his album is as successful as it deserves to be.
Opener 'Brand New Bass Guitar' is a fitting beginning to the album. As well as being light hearted, this song is generally the start of Mr. T's live sets. Stripped down to the bass guitar as is fitting, with only backing 'echo' vocals to distinguish it from online bootlegged live versions, it's Jamie T at his most traditional. 'Back in The Game' is another track with basic musical backing, and it works, harking back to the Jamie T of old when it really was just him and his bass guitar on stage. Other old favourites such as 'So Lonely Was The Ballad' and 'Ike & Tina' are given a slick album makeover and are all the better for it. Newer tracks such as 'Operation' tend to be more 'musical', and this song in particular is something special, with a spit-in-your-face-to-get-your-attention opening and a complete change in tone about half way through to keep you on your toes. Other newbies 'Pacemaker' and 'Dry Off you Cheeks' are different again. The former is unremarkable but great fun with catchy lyrics (you'll find yourself shouting “Go on my son, my son!” at the end, trust me), and the latter is the complete opposite; harsh vocals and violent beats.
Commercial successes are here too, of course. Crowd favourite and breakthrough single 'Sheila' features in all its un-radio edited glory, and the full version of newest single 'Calm Down Dearest' is also here (and the chatting after this track will probably make you smile, too). The mellow ball of sunshine that is 'If you Got the Money' is not displaced either.
Special mention should go to second track 'Salvador'. Vastly underrated commercially, but easily one of Mr. T's best offerings. I have yet to find another track in recent times that gets under the skin like this one; it's the epitome of 'a grower'. Album closer 'Alicia Quays' is a nice end to an even nicer debut. It's been kicking around for ages and showcases Jamie T's freestyling talents better than any of the other tracks, as well as asking those deep, philosophical questions we all want to know the answers to such as “Why is it New Years Eve is always shit?”
It is difficult to determine exactly what sets Jamie T apart from the rest. According to the press sheet he has 'an uncategorisable and exciting new sound' as a result of recording most of the album in his bedroom. This seems ridiculous to me, as the young Mr. T is hardly launching himself microphone-first into the unknown; he's stomping over ground already sown by other hotly tipped young things of yesteryear such as Tom Vek (who, interestingly, Jamie T supported in a series of gigs) and Plan B. His influences (The Clash, Tom Waits and Rancid as well as D&B) are also glaringly obvious throughout the entire album. However, none of this takes away from the fact that 'Panic Prevention' is a truly accomplished - if anything, these things add to the charm of an album that is produced enough to be stylish, without being overly slick, retaining the authenticity of Jamie T's earlier demos, without being afraid to showcase newer material. All in all, an achievement.