Allotment Recordings - 2003 - 43 minutes

An intimate home recording...stripped-down songs of melancholy and longing...sound familiar? It's certainly beginning to. Jamie Lawson is the latest in an ever-growing list of heartbroken singer-songwriters to commit their tales of love and loss to record.

He does this, it must be said, with some success. The emotional intensity and sheer conviction of these songs cannot be denied, giving his debut album an integrity that makes criticism seem almost like a personal insult. The beautiful opener 'Petals' proves to be one of the highlights of the album, a simple melody coupled with a satisfyingly repetitive lyric, and it sets a mood that remains constant throughout. But it is this consistency of mood and tone that begins to grate as the album progresses.

Towards the end it is hard to escape the feeling that you have heard this song before, that the spark or turn of phrase that could raise a song above the others is frustratingly absent. Soul baring is all well and good but it must be married to something more musically inspired to make this album any more than worthwhile.

Jamie Lawson's lilting voice is the dominant sound on this album, and it is placed justifiably higher in the mix than the simple piano or guitar that is used here, yet it is certainly an acquired taste. In fact, your enjoyment of this album will depend on how tolerant you are of his fragile, breaking vocals.

Plymouth-born Lawson has been sharing a stage with artists such as Gemma Hayes and Damien Rice, and if this competent release is to find success it will be through the same audience.

Ray Donoghue

Tracklisting: Petals - Wheat For Billie - Panic Attacks - Almost All The Time - Heal A Bone - Union Street - It's Over - Brave - Bruises - O' Familiarity - Last Night Stars