With nearly 20 years at the top, Jamie T is undoubtedly already an indie legend. His new album, The Theory of Whatever feels like a reflection on this status, a reflection on the impact that status has had on him and a statement on where he is today. Stylistically varied, it feels like a collection of thoughts and feelings, a musical biography to bridge the 6 year gap since Trick, it’s incredibly introspective, but simultaneously bullish in its open book approach to the star’s psyche.
The album is punctuated by some classic Jamie T: witty lyrics, fast paced delivery & driving guitars. But we also see some slower, stripped-back storytelling, more akin to ‘Turn on the Light’ and ‘Sign of the Times’ from previous albums. Never is this more on-show than ‘Talk is Cheap’, one of the most emotionally open songs we’ve ever had from the artist; no clever metaphors or Shakespearean references, just vulnerable honesty. The track delves deep into a relationship, and shows Treays in a new light, swapping his usual cleverly portrayed self-deprecation for an explicit expression of his flaws – for the first time it feels like this is him being blatantly honest, rather than self-deprecating for the purpose of creative expression.
‘Between the Rocks’ feels like an especially poignant moment, reminiscent of late-2000s Jamie T, but with a more cynical outlook. It comes with a vulnerability, a frank reflection on his time in the music business, an account of the ups and downs that coloured his time fulfilling his dreams. This track feels like the most accurate depiction of where Jamie T is as a person right now.
The fast paced ‘A Million and One Ways to Die’ feels like classic Jamie T, with a driving drum beat, energetic guitar solo to end and slightly more upbeat vocal delivery. It shows flashes of the rough and ready teen that burst onto the scene as an instant hero back in 2006.
Overall it feels like the expression of an artist worn down by life, but still as creatively sharp as ever, with that mastery of storytelling that has defined much of his creative output to date. It’s one of the most thought-provoking albums he’s made, it shows a maturity, a change of tact, but still it stands as one of the best collections of songs he’s produced so far.