EP Review: Jamie T – Magnolia Melancholia

Magnolia Melancholia

JamieT Magnolia Melancholia_200215Released 13th April 2015

Words: Gary Feeney

Having withdrawn so completely from the public eye in 2009 following his sophomore release Kings & Queens to the extent that social media pages were set up voicing concern for his well-being, London songster Jamie Treays, better known as Jamie T, caused something of a stir when he released a hand-written note proclaiming that “it might be time he plays some shows” in mid-2014.

Since that surprise announcement, Treays has embarked on a flurry of activity with further lives shows and the release of his third album Carry On The Grudge late last year followed up by this new release, the 6 track E.P. Magnolia Melancholia.

A collection of bits and pieces recorded during his hiatus – Treays said in an interview with the Guardian last year he wrote and recorded 180 songs in his time off – there’s a suitably rustic feel to this latest offering which adds an extra charm to Treays’ innate ramshackle stylings. Kicking off with Don’t You Find, the only previously released track having appeared on Carry On The Grudge, the introspective mood that looms over most of E.P. is set by a sparse, brooding track which combines a light reggae feel with haunting synth burts and backing vocals complimenting its wistful lyrics.

Marilyn Monroe finds Treays on more familiar territory, with a jerky bassline backing his trademark vocal stylings making it the most up-tempo track on the album, whilst the title track retains the same musical feel at a slightly lower tempo. The other original piece on the release, Riverbed, opens with a delicate tinge but builds to a musical crescendo bearing a striking similarity to Blur’s Beetlebum.

As impressive as the original contributions are, however, perhaps the two most striking tracks on Magnolia Melancholia are the two covers: Bran Van 3000’s Mama Don’t Smoke and The Replacements’ Bastards Of Young. Mostly featuring just an acoustic guitar, both songs’ lyrics seem to capture the mood of the E.P. perfectly, with Treays’ gentle, melodic vocals – much like Kings & Queens single Emily’s Heart – teasing extra meaning from couplets such as “I only get high abouttwice a day It helps to keep my blues away”.

In 6 tracks, Jamie T has managed to offer more than most of his contemporaries can produce in a full album: if you’re a long-term fan, you’ll be intrigued by the shift in mood and direction Magnolia Melancholia hints at, whilst this same sound is likely to appeal to those who weren’t so keen on his earlier material. After disappearing for such a long period, you can only hope that Jamie T’s comeback will be a permanent one.

One Response to “EP Review: Jamie T – Magnolia Melancholia”
  1. garyfeeney says:

    Reblogged this on General Smuts.


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