“You’re a woman and you’re only on Side-A / You still got the whole long play to twist,” Sophie Jamieson intones on the closing statement of her debut record, Choosing. It’s a fitting send-off, signalling a period of adventure awaiting the self-assured London-based singer-songwriter.
It also heralds a hopeful air to the work, one that’s otherwise dominated by Jamieson’s fraught relationship with alcohol and the self-destructive tendencies it incurred. In spite of Choosing coming almost a decade after Jamieson’s earliest EPs, this feels very much like a coming-of-age body of work. She goes from leaving her “dignity four bars behind” and admits to having “searched all corners of this town to fill me up”. Ultimately, the confidence and eagerness in her voice as she considers her future outweighs the darkness that informs the record.
Musically, Jamieson moves seamlessly between minimal arrangements where her vocal is the focal-point, accompanied by an electric guitar sparingly strummed or a melancholic piano melody, before the instrumentation becomes suddenly exhilarated, as it does on the thrilling opener ‘Addition’. In this regard, patience is rewarded as Jamieson and co-producer Steph Marziano expertly build tension within these vast compositions. This is most effectively done on the gothic ‘Fill’.
There are plenty of instances where Sharon Van Etten and Cat Power feel particularly influential on Jamieson’s artistry. Elsewhere, Julia Jacklin comes to mind on ‘Runner’, while Colorado duo Tennis’ pop sensibility permeates the hook of ‘Empties’. Throughout the overall essence and atmosphere of the record, however, there’s a kinship to Blake Mills’ material and production-style in how these songs warmly envelope the listener.
Admittedly, Choosing requires a couple of concentrated listens before completely clicking. Once everything falls into place, there’s something oddly comforting about how Sophie Jamieson makes sense of the chaos that inspired this astute introduction.