The bedroom is said to be a metaphor for life. The messier it is, the more confused existence has become.
Let's take my wardrobe as an example. Stowed away inside are remnants of a life that's already passed by. Parts of the London Underground and old CDs, scattered in Argos bags and withered hold-alls, bound loosely together by a vague sense of memory and in some cases, loss. Jamie T's 'Living With Betty', the closing track on this EP is a ramshackle, minimalistic tale, crammed with his already trademark London references and pseudo-council estate chic and like my wardrobe, it seems virtually impossible to hold on to anything or glean a moment of clarity from the contents. Enjoyable - absolutely, but you've got to work for it.
Which in itself is unlike its 'sister' track on this four-song collection.
'Back in the Game' comes from the drawer marked "Sparse" in his bedroom, accompanied only by his acoustic bass, the incredibly infectious rhyming couplets ring out through Jamie's ineffably glee-soaked south-of-the-river vocals. The most confusing thing about 'Back in the Game' however is this - using only his voice and a bass and glued together with his poetic prowess, it's impossible not to leave this song without an inflated sense of life's highs. Jamie T has created one of the most well-formed pieces of pop music these ears have heard in a good long while and already marks itself out to be the best track on the EP.
Until of course, we roll over to 'Salvador'.
It'll take you a couple of seconds to check your hi-fi to make sure that no-one's replaced the record with another artist, such is the digression from the previous two, but once you're settled in your conviction, you can begin to try and actually take in what is opening up around you.
Part latino-tinged, part The Streets rhyme, part Billy Bragg folksy roots...y'know what? This is pointless. Yes, Jamie has reference points and yes this song is reminiscent of movements and times in music, but there is one glaring fact that renders a thousand musical reference books irrelevant - this is perfect, perfect pop.
Every guitar stroke is necessary, every harmony is executed perfectly and every last hit of the drum is more vital than the last. 'Salvador' is a masterclass in songcraft and you really can't sing about it louder than that.
Back when Jamie T was playing the pubs and clubs he sings so fondly of, he'd win over fans on a number of planes. Those who took the time would decipher his incisive and witty socio-political commentary and leave shows feeling educated and entertained. Those who came to dance would never walk away unhappy, despite the man wielding nothing but his bass and cheeky riposte, his rhythmic way with words and consistently interesting accompaniment made for the perfect show for nearly all quarters of the audience.
This is his secret and will be the key to his making. Jamie can be many things to many people, rather than a few to the elite. You know that feeling you get when you hear an amazing song for the first time, desperate to hear more, that burning smile in the foot of your stomach? It's the same feeling I get every, single time I hear this EP.
I'm less inclined to tidy up than ever.
9Colin Roberts's Score