The true mark of any modern day artist is the ability to appreciate, adapt and respond to the ever discombobulating world spinning around us. Whether that means reaping inspiration from the enchanting myths of extinct civilisations, literary juggernauts, iconic soundtracks or visual marvels that helped define a generation of galvanised provocateurs.
This overreaching framework has been perfectly crafted within the latest passion project by Jamie Lenman in the form of his first ever covers album: Shuffle. It's a record that still manages to find originality in pre-existing concepts, and one that possesses production sensibilities that feel fiercely placed within a literal shuffle effect montage that makes the listener bask in an almost real world experience through Lenman’s personal inspirational playlists.
In short, Shuffle is a fourteen track exploration that sees Lenman expertly tackle the momentous feat of appreciation and homage, through covering and re-imagining the songs that sent him on a track to becoming a permanent fixture within the Alternative Rock scene. With such a vast and truly impressive array of musical stylings on offer including covers of such artist as The Beatles, Cyndi Lauper, and Annie Lennox to mention a few, the true highlights of Shuffle manage to truly transport your interest deep into Lenman’s very own musical wonderland.
‘Song of Seikilos’ is a seriously breathtaking interpretation of the oldest surviving musical composition in existence, dating back to around the first or second century AD where it was originally known as ‘The Seikilos Epitaph’. Although its original composition and notations were discovered within the carvings of an ancient tombstone in now modern day Turkey, Lenman expertly breathes new life into this song of adoration and remembrance, through his captivating voice wrapped in the enchanting plucking of a Lyre, which truly holds an essence of otherworldly fascination.
The even more obscure ‘She Bop’ sees Lenman repping some extreme Speed Metal meets Groove Rock influences in a track that can only be described as the perfect crossing point between ‘Astonishing Panorama of the End Times’ by Marilyn Manson and ‘Sweet 69’ by Babes in Toyland. With such an all well known ballsy track detailing the joys of female self-love, empowerment and masturbation - Lenman’s version takes you deeper into the darker realms of sexual pleasure with an almost fetish laden, S&M like sensibility without even changing any of the lyrics. It truly is a work of pure unadulterated filthy art that is incredibly infectious to the point that you will lose track of time due to keeping this Bop on a continuous loop.
Even with all this considered though, the most interesting part of this concept album sees the inclusion of literary and motion picture references with ‘You’re the Boss’, a gangsta-esque radio drama and ‘The Pequod Meets the Delight’, an authors reading type track which uses extracts from the Romantic/Symbolist novel ‘Moby-Dick; or, The Whale’ by Herman Melville. These two spoken word inclusions to this extraordinary album suggest an almost childlike quality to them via the two worlds of entertainment being blended together within the music that inspired Lenman from an early age.
While Lenman seems to have found his stride and artistic freedom with this re-imagining album release filled to the brim with truly incredibly work, he has also brought to life an interpretation of so many singers dream work. To create an album that consists of all the things that inspired you from your days before fame to the present day, is the brightest example of Lenman's musical bravery and creativity to date. Shuffle is a herculean feat made possible that will keep fans new and old, mature or naive, coming back for more every time.