Jamie N Commons – Rumble and Sway – Review

Blues is the one music genre that Americans can truly claim as their own. We can say that we started rock ‘n roll, or that we pioneered rap, or that American tech has driven the development of electronic music, but blues is the corner of Americana in music that has seen the least influence from the outside world. At least until Bristol native Jamie N Commons came along.

Jamie Commons has soul. He’s probably never had grits (no, polenta doesn’t count), but boy does he have grit. Rumble and Sway has a wild west feel to it, from the jangling piano (pronounced ‘pie-an-uh’ in this context) on the title track to the dark scene painted by the lyrics of “The Preacher”. It isn’t tongue-in-cheek or a caricature of country music, however. He doesn’t have a deep-south drawl, but the sincerity and raw bluesiness of his vocals makes most modern male country singers sound about as tough as Taylor Swift. You have to give credit to a guy who wears a cowboy hat in the land of the queen without an ounce of irony.

There are funny influences throughout, including a grandiose Elton John-style piano-horns-chorus production on “Wash Me in the Water”, and he covers “Have a Little Faith in Me”. Of course no modern blusey artist could escape a comparison to Ray LaMontagne, and Commons is no exception, especially in the crooning vocal on “Caroline”.

There are modern touches too, though. The production value is very high. The phonograph crackling noise added in places does feel a bit gimmicky, but is a minor annoyance, and over driven bass lines are a symptom of current production trends. “Rumble and Sway”, in particular, has some electronic tricks in the form of stuttery noises that just beg for remixes. The EDM scene does not disappoint, “Rumble and Sway” Radioactivated by Imagine Dragons is a particularly good example.

Rumble and Sway is a really solid EP from someone with the potential to shake up the concept of blues in America and abroad. My biggest complaint is that Commons has been releasing other tracks, including “Lead Me Home” on The Walking Dead Soundtrack and “Devil In Me“, before releasing his EP. I just hope that means he is working hard in the studio, and that his first full-length album will be coming sooner rather than later. I give Rumble and Sway four out of five… songs that should have just been saved and used to make a full LP.

You can download “The Preacher” on jamiencommons.com, just make sure you provide a throwaway email address. Jamie N Commons is on Interscope, so you want to avoid getting spammed by Jimmy Iovine.

2 thoughts on “Jamie N Commons – Rumble and Sway – Review

  1. I think this guy is amazing. Gives me hope for what country/american music could be, too bad he is from the UK. I have to say though, I think Rumble and sway is overproduced and with the exception of “lead me home” and “the preacher” (which was originally released on The Baron) it lack the rawness and grit I heard on The Baron EP which preceded it. Makes me think he singed to Interscope and some big shot producer took his stuff and tried to make it “marketable.” Too bad because for the most part I thought The Baron was amazing, and songs like “15 petals,” “now is not the time,” and “hold on,” made me think this guy was going to be someone who could rival the likes of Dylan or some of the other great singer/songwriters who have come before him. I hope he find his way back to his root, with a guitar and his voice and takes all the electronic crap out of his music for his next release.

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