Josephine Vander Gucht and Anthony West have been writing, recording and singing simmering R&B-influenced pop tunes in unison ever since forming Oh Wonder three years ago in London, writing a song a week. Their self-titled debut studio release (stream it below)—filled with what AllMusic dubs “unified-sounding, thoroughly mellow, wistful collection of bedroom keyboard-and-drum-machine tunes”—came out in 2015. Oh Wonder (above, performing “Drive”) returned this summer with their second full-length, Ultralife (stream it below), which received high praise. “What is so delightfully refreshing about this London duo is the utter effortlessness of their music,” says Rolling Stone. “This dreamy, polished album is a winner.” And currently working their way south from Canada, Oh Wonder play Brooklyn Steel on Tuesday and Wednesday. Singer-songwriter-poet-performer Jaymes Young opens both shows.
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Jaymes Young – The Bowery Ballroom – July 27, 2017
Music about love and heartbreak has an age-old, powerful way of attracting a crowd. So it’s no surprise then that The Bowery Ballroom was packed to the gills last night for Jaymes Young and Matt Maeson, a pair of singer-songwriters with an uncanny knack for folding their love-fueled memories into music with unfaltering sincerity. Maeson delivered his opening set with just a guitar in tow and shared music from his debut EP, Who Killed Matt Maeson. A rendition of his first single, “Cringe,” a tale of isolation and a big loss of innocence, got plenty of people singing along. Maeson was raised largely on Christian music but sought out the likes of Jeff Buckley and Johnny Cash when he began writing his own music. Maeson’s songs have a roots-inspired feel and they’re filled with alt-rock beats and jaunty pop hooks. We’ll likely be hearing more infectious music from him as he prepares to release a full-length album.
Young and his band hit the stage to uproarious applause and broke into “Tied Down,” the alluring opening track from his debut album, Feel Something. Jaymes Young’s storytelling is deeply personal and confessional, and listening to it live almost felt voyeuristic. But the sold-out crowd helped diffuse that feeling. He had the audience singing along at several points throughout the night. Young wrote Feel Something largely on his own, holed up in a studio and putting his openhearted ponderings to music. The result is a swath of ballads both dark and light that explore the depths of growing up and heartbreak. Wondering ballads like “Moondust” and “Northern Lights” rang out in all their synth-filled glory.
Young made a point of saying hi to his mother before he sang the yearning-filled single “Habits of My Heart.” “I love making moms swear,” he coyly joked after encouraging everyone to sing along. Young’s style is graceful yet powerful—his sweet-sounding voice clashes in the best way with lyrics about lost love, moving on and mistakes. And he’s fostered a strong connection with fans by sharing mail he’s received over the years on his Tumblr. Young closed out the performance with the oh-so-tender “I’ll Be Good,” which has amassed more than 20 million streams on Spotify. It seems there’s no shortage of poignant music from this young, brooding gentleman. —Schuyler Rooth | @SchuylerSpeak
Tags: Bowery Ballroom, Feel Something, Jaymes Young, Jeff Buckley, Johnny Cash, Live Music, Lower East Side, Matt Maeson, Music, New York City, Review, Schuyler Rooth, Who Killed Matt Maeson
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