Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Mi Mye 'The Time & The Lonelyness' Review

Mi Mye
The Time and The Lonelyness
Mi Mye Bandcamp

It's funny how Mi Mye, the name under which Jamie Lockhart releases his music, is so influential and well regarded in Wakefield, yet sounds nothing like any of the other bands around. Debut album 'Senc Of The Shaking', released in 2010, saw a full, confident, and fun set engage the listener with ease. Gigs around that time were NOISY, Jamie pitched centre stage with his fiddle whilst as many friends as he could fit on stage swelled around him with a ferocious wall of noise. Like an interesting Arcade Fire perhaps. That's the way it COULD have gone.

Instead 'The Time and The Lonelyness', his second album (bar an Xmas collection) is a whole lot more introspective in nature. Clearly inspired by the latest live setup, a bare bones backing of minimalist bass and meandering drums, this is an, at times, unnervingly personal record. The production is striking in its unfussiness. As a record from a record producer, you may expect a flashy, showy, overblown mess. Instead we get, what is to my ears, a rather simplistic and live sounding record which only serves to strengthen the heartfelt emotion wrapped around each of these tracks, kind of reminiscent of Lennon’s open self production on tracks like ‘God’ from his first solo album. I love records that have that warmth, especially on the drums, when it feels like you are in the room with them. It's one of the records bravest, yet greatest achievements.

The album itself is 9 songs long, mainly plaintative, lovelorn pleas and ponderings, bar a closing 10 minute instrumental. Opener 'lament' has been in the live set for a while and opens with the great line 'thank you my love for being so kind / over the death of my first wife'. It rattles along and sets the up-front vocal style of the record and is the closest to previous Mi Mye records in its mix of personal lyricism but buoyant backing. A quick decent follows with a duo of stripped back, pained relationship dissections.

‘When I Wake Up’ picks up the pace once more and is a perfect mix of the upbeat and the slightly sad refrain of ‘the thing about dreams is they mess you up in the morning’. Generally there is a disregard for convention, particularly in the way the lyrics scan and flow with the music, words squished and extended to fit the emotional context rather than the rhythm. This technique works well in adding a closer personal tie to the songs, like a story being told rather than a song being sung. They’d be hard songs to cover, let’s put it that way. The album is what it is – I would perhaps prefer a couple more upbeat, sprightly numbers. But it doesn’t feel as if it was been designed to be a specific way; this record could only exist this way because these are more than exercises in songwriting. Its music, art and expression in its purest form which is, of course, the greatest thing and the records greatest success.

Perhaps the only issue I have with this record is that I don’t really know when to play it. Witnessed live, as I already have, these songs are as engaging as it's possible to be, Jamie's natural charm keeping the pure sincerity from becoming uncomfortable or cloying. It's the kind of music I live to see live. On record, this is replicated perfectly, the emotion remaining impressively intact. I just wouldn’t put it on in my car. So I guess, from the point of view of an online purchaser, it's something you have to put some time into, set the mood, find the time. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that of course, in fact it's the best way to be.

Dean Freeman

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