Jamie T.Panic Prevention
Essential: "So Lonely Was the Ballad"
Songsmith and rapper Jamie T. has said he values vibe over talent. But the indie upstart from London revels in an abundance of both on his debut, "Panic Prevention." The gifted young artist, who broke out after remixing a track on Gorillaz's "Demon Days," has received critical acclaim at home.
Now out stateside, his debut finds him prowling nighttime streets, soaking up history, pop culture jetsam, and the city's ethnic mélange and crafting an abundant, immediate record of life right now. Intricate stories unfold over acoustic bass and playful samples, including snippets from relaxation tapes meant to counter his panic attacks as a youngster.
The reggae-punk flavor of "Salvador" recalls the Clash, although his politics are more personal than societal. His taut, thickly accented raps and sing-songy lyrics bring to mind Brit-rap originators the Streets and Dizzee Rascal, but his sound is far more exuberant and varied than just hip-hop or grime would allow. Simple but addictive, "So Lonely Was the Ballad" is a messy pop delight. On one of two US bonus tracks, "Rawhide," Jamie T. and Lily Allen kick it up with sassy, freewheeling abandon.
A cheeky, delirious romp that's rife with humor and originality, this debut channels the euphoric sound of an underdog finding his voice and gaining his glory. [Sarah Tomlinson]
Jamie T. plays at Great Scott on Sept. 12.