Someone might have introduced Jamie Woon to you as “the next James Blake.” They have different strengths — Woon the superior falsetto, Blake the better songs. Early into mirrorwriting you’d think they also shared the same sense of restraint. “I’ve acquired a taste for silence” Woon sings on the Burial-co-produced opener “Night Air.” Like that song, the first half of the record wrings maximum impact from minimal instrumentation. Woon says many songs on the album are about walking, and you hear that in the small echo that surrounds his voice, in the delicate percussion behind “Street,”“Lady Luck,” and “Echo.” The first half of mirrorwriting is restless, desperate for contact. The quiet feels as much like a field recording as the tics and pulses in the rhythm. Once Woon finds what he’s looking for, he relaxes a bit too much. “Spiral,” “Gravity,” and “Waterfront” in particular come off more like showpieces for his voice than completed songs. The acoustic guitar also pushes them into soft FM crooner territory. If you think about it, there isn’t much space between the second half of mirrorwriting and many neo-soul sex symbols on your radio. Maybe it’s better to take Woon’s advice in“Waterfront”– “Come on and flow wherever it takes you,” especially if mirrorwriting takes you from the sidewalk to the bedroom.
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