Time waits for no man, and in lots of cases, neither does music. It’s been four years since Mirrorwriting, Woon’s debut album was released. Four years is a life time in pop music and after nearly half a decade of little to no output (save for a Disclosure collab and the odd festival appearance), a comeback album could have easily fell into obscurity.
With that being said, quality speaks for itself and the cream rises to the top. Funnily enough, cream is an appropriate metaphor that can be applied to Making Time, a record that is a lesson in tranquility and that less is indeed more and for its 42 minutes it’s effortlessly smooth (like cream).
The complex, small hours production and atmospherical haze that revolutionary producer Burial applied to many parts of Mirrorwriting is all but gone here. And while that might be disappointing to some, it really shouldn’t come as any great surprise. In a 2011 interview with the BBC, Woon said “At the heart of what I do is R&B; it’s groove-based vocal-led music.” And that in essence, is what Making Time is.
Yes the electronic elements of his debut were faultless in telling the stories of endless night times spent contemplating hesitation and lost love but Making Time does similar things, except this time round the stories are told almost exclusively by Woon’s soulful voice while the stripped back instrumentals provide little more than a back drop. Lead single Sharpness is the quintessential example of that.
Closing track Dedication does a similar thing, starting with little more than dreamy vocals that almost float in and out of consciousness before eventually building up to a future jazz slink where briefly we’re reminded that Woon is a master of many instruments, not just the host of an other-worldly voice.
Elsewhere there are other reminders that if he wanted to, Jamie Woon can do whatever he likes with a song, taking it in multiple directions up to the point where the end of a track bears little resemblance to the start. For 30 seconds Thunder is a temperate Spanish villa in the form of music before an out of nowhere chorus transforms the song into a tribal hand drum orientated ritual, “Told you I’m as ready as the thunder” his voice rolls in a powerful yet totally innocent way.
Mirrorwriting may have been the personification of the bass music scene that flooded the streets of London in 2011 but after such a long time it would have been counter-productive to return to that. Making Time doesn’t attempt that, at all. And while it may not offer an approach to music that’s new (it’s unshakeably traditionalist if anything) it’s completely irrelevant when the results are so perfectly crafted, and on Making Time that’s exactly what they are.
The album is out now via Polydor/ PMR Records.