Jamie Lenman – ‘Muscle Memory’ [Review]
As regular readers will know, Jamie Lenman is a big deal where I’m from. My Facebook feed literally blew up with the release of the double-A-side Fizzy Blood/Pretty Please, news of his secret set at The Boileroom in Guildford, and the dates for his Heavy / Mellow Band’s recently completed tour. On top of all that, of course, there is this album. Not just a standard-length LP, but a 70-minute double album that takes in so many styles that I felt compelled to delay this review and let it all sink in and mature for a while. Now, however, it’s ready to go.
Nobody expresses anger quite like Jamie Lenman. Amid an ocean of incensed souls, his beyond-passionate delivery has always stood apart through Reuben tracks like Return Of The Jedi, Missing Fingers, and Stuck In My Throat. On Muscle, it’s plainly evident that the past six years of downtime have not served to assuage Jamie’s rage. Whether it’s cultural stagnation (The Six-Fingered Hand), the social media attention sink (One Of My Eyes Is A Clock), or the reality-as-horror-movie-entertainment world of many mainstream media outlets (No News Is Good News), Lenman’s reservoir of justified hatred seems as bottomless as ever.
At a point in life where most people are set on settling down into a nice, comfy, and quiet existence, Jamie Lenman has chosen to give the status quo another defiantly righteous middle finger and fill his fans’ ears with eleven tracks that are more brutal than a bare-knuckle boxing match. More musicians should follow his example.
The second side of Muscle Memory is the main reason for the delay behind this review. If I’m honest, I wasn’t into a lot of these tracks at first; as The Musical Melting Pot’s archives demonstrate, the contents of Memory sit quite firmly outside my comfort zone. The only track on Memory that immediately captured my attention was Pretty Please – a spellbinding pop-jazz tune with which I was already familiar due to its video release behind Muscle track Fizzy Blood. The rest, however, took their time in crawling under my skin; but now they’re there, and they won’t come out. From the ukelele-driven Shotgun House to I Ain’t Your Boy‘s laid-back Reuben vibe, For God’s Sake‘s wistful lyricism, If You Have To Ask You’ll Never Know‘s upbeat country twang and the brilliantly-arranged A Day In The Life, Memory is a slow-burning delight that rewards patient and open ears. Would it be an overstatement to call Jamie Lenman Surrey’s answer to Tom Waits? I don’t think so.
Overall, Muscle Memory is absolutely brilliant – but there is a deeper point being made here. Music is so often touted as a kid’s game, with bands frequently falling apart in their mid-twenties and their members never returning to the spotlight. But with Muscle Memory, Jamie Lenman is offering clear proof that grown-ups can still get the job done, no matter how long they’ve been out of the game. Again, more musicians should follow this example.
Listen / Links
Buy Muscle Memory from iTunes here: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/muscle-memory/id71225595
Jamie Lenman on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jamielenman