Jamie Lenman – Mississippi (2017)

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, if the Women don’t get you the whisky must….

Edit (10/7/17): Removed the Soundcloud link and replaced with a Bandcamp link, because Bandcamp. Also Mississippi is included on a double A side (digital) with the 2nd single, “Waterloo Teeth”.

Jamie Lenman has previously sung of his love of America, and his new single Mississippi is another love letter from the Englishman.

Unlike his work with Reuben and his 2014 double album Muscle Memory, Mississippi adds new electronic elements to the Lenman toolkit. Many of the elements of previous songs are there, but this time somehow more focused and realised with unwavering determination.

Muscle Memory had a clear separation of light vs dark, heavy distorted loud vs soft and vulnerable. Mississippi has brought those two sides back together in the most pleasing way.

Mississippi is built on a driving and unrelenting drum beat. The guitar and bass tones fuzzy, providing texture to enhance the drum beat, rather than the traditional Lenman riffage.

The true impact lyrics didn’t hit me until after repeated listenings, they are honest and profound. With each release, Jamie Lenman’s music feels more autobiographical. In the case of Mississippi, singing about his ghosts: the death of his father, having his own sliding doors moments and exploring the what-ifs of life.

The lyrics are further enhanced by the chanted refrain of “I can’t let go”, which will be chanted by the crowd when played live.

The song feels like an anthem for those with an eye on the past, Lenman himself not only evoking his past in the lyrics but reprising a whole refrain from his banjo-ukelele track “Shotgun House” (Muscle Memory, 2014). I challenge you to listen and not get M-I-DOUBLE S-I-DOUBLE S-I-P-P-I stuck in your head for the rest of the day. The difference between the two versions shows the musical range that Lenman is comfortable navigating.

I’ve not read anywhere if Mississippi is an isolated single, or part of an upcoming album. I really, REALLY hope it is the latter. The more Jamie Lenman records there are in the world, the better.

Thanks for reading
– Murray

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