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Jamie Lenman - 'Live At St Pancras Church' Album Review


1. Thanks For Coming

2. All Of England Is A City (Live At St Pancras)

3. Body Popping (Live At St Pancras)

4. Waterloo Teeth (Live At St Pancras)

5. What's Your Favourite Song On The New Album and Why? (Q&A)

6. What's The Name Of The Rap Album Gonna Be? (Q&A)

7. How Easy Was This Album To Make? (Q&A)

8. How Do You Maintain Your Visceral Anger And Honesty? (Q&A)

9. Couldn't You Find A Bassist? (Q&A)

10. How Hard Is It To Keep Your Old Yamaha Together? (Q&A)

11. Any Artists You'd Like to Feature With? (Q&A)

12. Any Future Collaborations? (Q&A)

13. Devolver (Live At St Pancras)

14. Bones (Live At St Pancras)

15. Mississippi (Live At St Pancras)

16. Today Is A Big Day

17. I Ain't Your Boy (Live At St Pancras)

18. Menmania

19. Tonight My Wife Is Your Wife (Live At St Pancras)

20. St Pancras

21. Memory (Live At St Pancras)

22 A Real Bummer

23. Money Changes Everything (Live At St Pancras)

24. Solo Career

25. The Last Time (Live At St Pancras)

26. You Will Go To Hell

27. Little Lives (Live At St Pancras)

28. Thanks To Everyone

29. Nobody Loves You (Live At St Pancras)

30. Never Coming Here Again

31. Friends In Low Places (Live At St Pancras)

32. Two Thousand Trees (Bonus Track)

Recording a stripped back live solo performance in a church may seem like an odd thing to some but, let's face it, the acoustic design of these places is near enough perfect for a performer wanting to capture that little bit extra. So when Jamie Lenman's new live album dropped digitally into my email inbox the other day I barely battered an eyelid.

Jamie is more well known as frontman for the band Rueben. After the band split he forged himself a relatively decent solo career along the lines of his good friend Frank Turner. I'll admit to not knowing much about the guy or his career but a good friend of mine had been raving about him recently and thought that this opportunity was a perfect place for me to start.

There's a smattering of applause at the start of the album as Jamie warmly introduces himself and his music, recorded on the same day as his album 'Devolver' was released. Opening song 'All Of England Is A City' bursts into life with the singer affecting an odd falsetto vocal for the first verse before dropping into his more normal vocal style.

'Body Popping' follows it up swiftly, with Lenman's voice working well together in tandem with his acoustic. The guitar sounds a little unusual in places and can take a little bit of getting used to at times but your ear becomes attuned to it pretty quickly.

There's plenty of between song chat from Jamie as he shows a dry wit, talking about himself and his songs ('Waterloo Teeth' for instance is one of the few songs he's not rearranged for the solo performance). There is also a question and answer section that allows you a great insight into his character as well as some stories from the recording sessions, which are pretty damn funny. He comes across as being full of charisma and is a natural storyteller, less Frank Turner and more Beans On Toast, mixing almost a little bit of Folk into his performance.

The title track of 'Devolver' is up after the Q&A section and works really well stripped back to this format. In fact, all of the songs do, not having heard anything really by him before means I've not got anything to measure them against which is pretty cool. 'Bones' casts a stern look at certain sections of the music industry, where artists seem to announce hiatus after hiatus, reunion tour after reunion tour. The opening riff from 'Mississippi' certainly sounds like it was created for an electric guitar, it has a certain grit and tone to it, but performed acoustically doesn't rob it of any of it's power, which some songs would suffer with.

The second set again starts with some brief chat before slipping into 'I Ain't Your Boy', a little more subdued compared to the first set with Lenman playing a guitar that looks good but is harder to keep in tune (to paraphrase him). Tonight 'My Wife Is Your Wife' is more strummed than the others, reminding me a bit of InMe and the completely underrated and overlooked Dave McPherson, something that's really highlighted to me on the following song 'Memory'. A cover of Cindi Lauper's 'Money Changes Everything' is a bit of surprise but a real welcome one as the arrangement Lenman has really suits him and his voice.

Rueben rarity 'The Last Time' (which Lenman tells the audience he was hoping to use for his solo career but a demo ended up being used on a Reuben compilation retrospective instead) hints at what could have been with his previous band. 'Little Lies' drops into the set before we hit the home straight. 'Nobody Loves You' and 'Friends In Low Places' closes the live portion of the album in fine fettle, Jamie showing he's able to wring every last drop of emotion out of his songs for a rapt audience, his self depreciating sense of humour joking about how downbeat his set is. Not that the audience mind, they soak themselves in every ringing chord and in every word that's sung. There's nothing wrong with being downbeat at all, especially when the songs being played and sang are so damn good.

The album itself closes with the inclusion of 'Two Thousand Trees', a bonus track played again with just Lenman's voice and guitar. It's quite short, clocking in at just one minute and twenty two seconds, but it's a fine way to end the album.

Part of Lenman's charm with this album is his between song chats, although I can see people skipping them after a few listens to get to the songs themselves. He comes across as comfortable being on his own on the stage, something that isn't always the case with some types of music like this. It almost reminds me at times of the live prison albums of Johnny Cash, which is always a good thing. Perhaps on the evidence of this Jamie Lenman should think about doing some more acoustic shows. It's something that he's a natural at.

Review - Scott Hamilton

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