You lean on the balcony’s railing, looking out into the vast universe. The DJ’s music thumps through the doors behind you, filling the time between acts. It’s Velvet Night at the most happening satellite orbiting Hyperion, meaning that the smoothest artists have journeyed from across the galaxy to display their individual brands of aural seduction. The music dims and applause grows. You turn around and walk through the doors. The lights go down . . .
The smoothest of the smooth. That’s exactly what this record is, and it’s also a firm contender for my favorite album of the year, so far. Making Time is the newest full-length from British singer, songwriter, and producer Jamie Woon. This artist has remained somewhat quiet since the release of the also-excellent Mirrorwriting in 2011, but I’m happy to report that the extended hiatus has only refined Woon’s soulful songwriting.
The brand of downtempo soul on display here brings to mind the minimal, IDM-influenced compositions of James Blake, but Woon replaces Blake’s abstract electronic experimentalism with smooth-as-silk grooves and vocal ad libbing. The sound design is warm, the instrumentation is tastefully intricate, the hooks are undeniable, and Woon possesses one of the most charismatic voices in music. It’s a glorious concoction.
Each song is a masterstroke, but the closing one-two-punch of “Skin” and “Dedication” is almost overwhelming. The former starts from nothing, and utilizes lurching, evolving vocal harmonies to set the elegant stage for the latter to envelop the listener in angelic synths, strings, and a chorus/refrain combo that’s sublime. I can’t recommend this one highly enough. If you’re seeking smooth-as-silk soul, this album is for you.
– stasi (@stasisphere)