Jamie Lenman – ‘Shuffle’

By Dave Stewart

Cover albums are always a guaranteed slice of fun. There’s something special about hearing brand new reworked versions of songs, especially when the artist performing them transforms the track and makes it their own. No matter the artist or the genre of the song, covers albums will always manage to remain exciting and surprising, pushing artists to step out of their comfort zones in order to create something new and refreshing.

Consider for a moment, though, if the spectrum on what could be covered was widened. What if it wasn’t just popular songs, but film soundtracks, tv show theme tunes, songs by lesser known bands, literature – what if you could interpret any form of art into a cover? That’s exactly what Jamie Lenman set out to do with his brand new record ‘Shuffle’, and the results are interesting – in a good way.

There are plenty of covers albums in circulation nowadays. Be it artists releasing an album full of covers or a collection of bands piling together to release a compilation, there’s plenty of choice in the airwaves. But no matter where you look, you won’t find an album like this one. You won’t find an album where every single track is unpredictable, each sequential track sounding complete different to the one that preceded it.

‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ opens the album loudly and proudly as Lenman plumps up the Beatles track with a few extra decibels. With pounding drums and a beautifully fuzzy guitar tone, it fires through the track with the same addictive vocal melodies as the original with some added rock ‘n’ roll punch. Skip forward a few tracks and you get a rich and indulgent remake of ‘Taxi Driver’, imitating the sound track from the film of the same name. Skip forward one more and you hear Lenman playing all of the parts on the spoken word ‘You’re The Boss’. And things just get weirder.

Ever wondered what the Popeye theme tune would sound like if it was fuelled by metal and hardcore? Well you don’t need to now, because Lenman has made it a minute long reality. Ever wondered what an Ancient Greek song about a man’s wife would sound like if it was recorded now? Well, Lenman has that covered on ‘Song of Sekilos’. Perhaps you’ve been dreaming of hearing a reworked version of Cyndi Lauper’s ‘She Bop’? Look no further – that’s here too, in all its zany yet infectious glory. There’s even a Seal track on here, neatly sat alongside a video game track, an Annie Lennox track, a chapter from Moby Dick, and another Beatles classic. People often say records have something for everyone, but this record literally does. If you want variety, you’ll definitely find it here.

Admittedly this makes for a strange listen, but that’s to be expected. It’s an album composed of tracks that have intentionally been chosen for how they don’t relate to one another – a true representation of shuffled music. Jamie Lenman has always been forward thinking, and this is a prime example of his genius at work.

Ever since his time as the front man of Reuben, he’s been writing music that’s ahead of its time, and ‘Shuffle’ is yet another example of that. No one else is brave enough to push the boundaries quite like Jamie, let alone have the balls to put a Beatles cover on the same album as the Popeye theme tune. The entire record is bonkers, full to the brim with unique tracks that you’d never expect to see alongside one another. Despite the vast musical landscape, though, every track is unmistakably a Jamie Lenman track, his style and swagger instantly recognisable.

In the same way that a shuffle of your own music library would present you with endless variety and unpredictability, ‘Shuffle’ provides exact same service, thrusting an eclectic mix of unique tracks directly into your eardrums. There’s no correct way to listen to this record – if you put it on shuffle you’d come away with the exact same mind bending experience. A crazy, creative step into untrodden territory from one of the UK’s most underrated talents.

DAVE STEWART

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