Having featured on an Eminem track (Desperation was included on the Deluxe version of Marshall Mathers LP2), opened for Bruce Springsteen and seen Jungle remixed by X Ambassadors to include Jay Z as well as enter the Billboard Top 100 charts, Jamie N Commons has clearly been knocking on the door for a while. The Bristolian blues-rocker has released a series of EPs and singles over the last few years to varying success both sides of the Atlantic. The latest of these EPs is named simply Jamie N Commons.
Commons’ voice is raspy and deep, very Bluesy in its sound. His voice and use of bass-heavy guitar have seen him become recognisable; it is rock music with blues and folk influences, loud and hard-hitting. However, the first song of the EP is surprisingly tender; an acoustic version of another X Ambassadors song called Low Life. Harmonica solos and gentle strumming are rife, creating a vibe that was unexpected from the man who had previously penned Karma. “I’m nothing but a low life,” sings Commons. It’s like Amy Winehouse’s You Know I’m No Good; there’s a self-conscious sadness, a resignation to the singer’s natural inclination to “just hurt you” that strikes a chord with Blues listeners everywhere. This is a different side to Jamie N Commons, who subsequently goes on to revert to more familiar territories.
Not Gonna Break Me brings in the bass drum and the dread-inspiring backing vocals from his previous EPs. The previous balance is reversed, with Commons setting up a ‘me vs. the world’ tone of defiance in this harsher-sounding track. Repetitive lyrics and rhythmic patterns build to a crescendo with a more angry but equally heartfelt ending to the second song. The anger however, ends with the end of the song. Let’s Do It Till We Get It Right is faster and more infested with familiar 8 bar blues patterns; like the previous song, it is cleverly produced, featuring a myriad of melodies on top of each other that work well together. You can almost imagine a group outside a New Orleans bar playing the song, a real toe-tapper that could feature on any number of TV adverts if anyone was looking for such a song. The EP’s finale – Where There’s A Will There’s A Way – picks up from where its predecessor left off, crashing drums leading to various guitar pieces and the gloriously bluesy vocals. Again, it has none of the charm of Low Life, but more than makes up for it in fast-paced, short-lived fun, clocking in at 2 minutes and 28 seconds. It is its own song, like each of the others, and nicely wraps up a very good EP.
There is a natural progression between the sounds of each song, experimentation and creativity the mainstays. Each song makes it difficult to pick out a favourite, each arguing its own case in an EP that showcases the breadth of the artist’s talent. Having toured incessantly for months, it is finally time for Commons to sit down and look to record the songs he’s been trialling on US crowds. And if this EP is anything to go by, his inevitable debut album will be simply unmissable.