On First Listen: Jamie Woon – “Gravity”

Because this record isn’t out yet, the only Youtube recording there is of “Gravity” is a live version, but this is a fairly faithful live rendering.

Though I’m smitten by large portions of Jamie Woon’s Mirrorwriting, the high point on the record is the subtle “Gravity,” a song that has quickly become Song of the Year, something that changes on a semi-regular basis. But for at least a few days, “Gravity” has the honor of holding the Song of the Year distinction in the mind of a nondescript music blogger.

“Gravity” is a breakup song and in that regard, it’s unremarkable. But the subtlety by which he unveils that revelation (Money is time / Time is a currency / You and I both know who you’re spending yours on) is captivating. The separation in the final line (“You and I”) is a reminder that this is no longer a “we” situation. The song opens with what sounds like white noise, accompanied by light strings and a single acoustic guitar. Woon is alone, and you can hear it not only in his voice and lyrics, but in the gaps of instrumentation. This is a diary entry, not an R&B song.

Possibly the track’s greatest strength, however, is the range that Woon sings in. When approaching subjects like Woon does here, it’s important that listeners can relate to them, otherwise lyrics typically sound contrived and stereotypical. But there’s a very Everyman-ness to “Gravity” because of where Woon’s voice hovers. I’m sure Ne-Yo has better range, but if you want me to relate to something, it’s best to make it attainable and understandable.

There’s no redemption or anger in this song. It’s an exploration of feelings shortly after you’ve discovered the woman you love has left you for someone else. There’s loneliness and hollowness and a sense of longing. But most of all, there’s confusion, something you can grasp in the way Woon whispers his vocals.

By the time Woon’s voice fades to black, you’re left with the electronic buzz that had been building behind him, unaware of where it came from and only now able to recognize its air-thin, receding qualities.

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