Mirrorwriting is the debut offering of hotly tipped 27 year old Jamie Woon, son of Celtic folkstress Mae McKenna and graduate of the famed Brit School musical breeding ground. The much anticipated release is an eclectic mix of soulful slow jams and R&B excursions that writhe in brooding soundscapes, skirting the peripheries of dubstep and post-xx indie. Boasting an immaculate voice and playful sense of melody, Woon makes evident his undeniable talents on this first collection of songs but currently lacks the distinction to turn these songs into a truly sterling body of music.

Woon refines his songs to scatterings of glassy synths, vocal loops and soft electronic kicks to impressive effect. The two step shuffle of songs like 'Shoulda' and opening salvo 'Night Air' (co-produced with Burial, I might add) benefit from a low key approach that keeps instrumentation minimal and allows Woon's glottal tumblings plenty of space to maneuver. Melodic lines that might otherwise have been transposed to other instruments are instead left to Woon to sing or hum, a tactic that lends the record intimate feel, as though the songs were plucked straight from the songwriter's imagination. The rare occasions when other timbres enter the fray affirm the adage that absence makes the heart grow fonder - the staccato strings that sweep into the jittery bombast of 'Middle' halfway through are thrillingly unexpected.

Each song carries its own well-crafted hook and impeccable delivery. Woon borrows from both the upper echelons of contemporary R&B and shadowy realm of basement venues in south London to deliver 'Lady Luck,' an upbeat effort that posits an upbeat groove evocative of Timbaland and chorus falsetto not unlike Justin Timberlake next to grime-laden production spills and in doing so forms one of the album's highlights.

Such is the charisma of Woon's songs that it is often possible to cast aside jarring elements in his music - the two-step shuffle of 'Street', for instance, struggles for poignancy against a chorus line that all but reduces the complexities of romantic longing to a high-street jaunt to buy new trainers ("you can try on anything for free / pick up anything you need / but I'm wishing you were here with me / walking on this city street") but it hardly seems to matter.

However, Mirrorwriting is a record that often feels unsure of itself. There is enough evidence in the disparity between songs like the slick 'Spirals' and more leftfield excerpts such as the Prince-esque 'Echoes' to suggest an artist that, although ostensibly gifted, remains torn between his affection for dark, sonic experimenting and his natural penchant for more straight laced material. On 'Middle', Woon weaves his soulful croons between repeating vocal chants and off-beat electronic bleeps, singing of how he is: "balancing the two extremes / swinging in the in-between" - surprisingly apt, though perhaps not the intended application of the lyrics.

This said, the record is greatly enjoyable and the singer has clearly produced a solid debut outing. Where Woon will venture next will be interesting to watch.

Photobucket