Rarely does a song come together with the seamless roll we hear with Saint Jaimz’s “AWOL (Absent Without Love)”. This performer, a sixteen year Army veteran, has made astonishing progress since first emerging and his intimate, thoughtful confluence of an entertaining form like R&B couples up well with a lyrical sensibility that connects with listeners yet is clearly a cut above the customary work in this area. Jaimz aspires to imbue a personal message of some sort in each of his songs and succeeds in depicting a situation when you realize how you’ve held on too long with someone who, in the end, drained your joy for life. This might sound like a downer in terms of subject matter, but Jaimz makes it a surprisingly exultant affair, cognizant of the pain, but ready with the will and strength to move on.
It comes across as a message born from personal experience. Many performers maintain a distance from their audience and, as a result, there’s always an arbitrary line separating performer from the listener. There’s no such effect with Saint Jaimz’s music. Instead, he invites us to share his experiences through music and doesn’t hold back from his listeners – it makes for an invigorating listen. “AWOL (Absent Without Love)” doesn’t mince words about its subject matter and drives straight into its heart; the chief instrument realizing the song’s emotional potential is, naturally, Jaimz’s voice.
It’s difficult, if not impossible, to not enjoy the language he uses to convey the song. It’s clipped, not a single extra word marring the track, and the vocal melody he employs for the song transforms and shapes itself to the song’s musical changes. It never meanders, however, and has a natural flow rather than something that comes off inordinately crafted and empty of inspiration. Everything Jaimz touches radiates inspiration without ever overwhelming listeners. Jaimz hasn’t been recording and releasing music for many years, but already sports the sort of all around polish we associate with much older iconic acts.
He has a strong modern presence however. The relative daring of the song’s arrangement mixing traditional elements of the genre late 20th/early 21st century like discreetly used keyboards and synthesizer swells with acoustic guitar, impressive flourishes from bass guitar, and a groove centric percussion clinic musically defines the track. It’s quite unlike anything else you’ll hear in this style.
It’s a new peak in Saint Jaimz’s musical journey and bodes well for the future. “AWOL (Absent Without Love)” has musical and lyrical depth alike, but it’s the commanding way Jaimz takes over the performance that really sets it apart. He’s a true presence in the song from his first syllable through the last and adorning his vocals with backing singers and multi-tracked passages only strengthens the experience. Saint Jaimz is making a name for himself with each new release based on his discipline, talent, and hard work – these qualities are sure to carry him even further from here and we’re lucky, as listeners, to accompany him for the ride.
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