In May 2013, Jamie Hamilton began writing material for the follow-up to Roots EP. Disillusioned with the sparse arrangements and formulaic folk-pop sound favoured by a growing number of singer-songwriters, he set out to contrast his picked acoustic guitar and layered vocal harmonies against an electronic backdrop, enlisting the help of artist and fellow Sunbird Records musician Jonathan Lindley to aid in shaping the sound/design of the album. Later in the year, the duo relocated to Tenerife for a month, converting their apartment into a makeshift studio. The result is a schizophrenic soundscape of acoustic and fabricated resonances paired with a dense narrative of what can be lost or found during the transition to adulthood in a 21st century of spiralling distractions.
‘Circles’, Jamie Hamilton’s debut album, is out now.
On ‘Roots’, Jamie Hamilton admits, “I am not the one”. There’s a sad beauty in the number one. It can mean simplicity. It can mean victory. Independence. Loneliness. It can be powerful or meaningless. Roots EP was built on the number one. Recorded on a single microphone in the same small room as its songs had been conceived and written, one voice and one guitar guide an unwilling passenger through solitary tales of disillusionment and loss. All of the above connotations are present. There is simplicity in the instrumentation (or lack thereof), exposing a vulnerability behind the at times harsh northern dialect. Victory is hidden in the escapism of untethered travel or the warm bursts of companionship in the fleeting harmonies. The coward leaving everything behind in ‘Mirrors’ is empowered with a new independence, but with it comes a loneliness as destructive as that felt by the man howling at the moon in ‘Blueprints’. No matter how meaningless the voice in ‘Protests’ believes himself to be, there is a power in the renewed optimism to defeat the ‘disease’ of a watered-down liberty at the song’s climax.
You don’t need the uncertainty or isolation of its characters to enjoy Roots EP; just headphones, a quiet room and 16 minutes.