Album Review: Jameson Burt – Carnivore – Scorching yet eloquently soft vocals

Jameson Burt– a name that should remind you of exactly what it sounds like, according to Burt: bourbon, sleep deprivation and the writings of Ernest Hemingway- is a folk singer/songwriter from Santa Ana, California. His sound is a strange middle ground between a collaboration of alternative, pop, folk and country. Strange, but good. Burt’s music is saturated with an authentic and aged sound that will quickly draw you in through mere curiosity.

His latest 6 track EP Carnivore features Burt playing an electric guitar and in the more country heavy songs, picking at a banjo (someone has to fill the void from the latest Mumford album). What will keep you engaged is Burt’s impressive vocal range. His ability to swiftly transition from falsetto to husky will remind you of James Bay, while his evident passion in performing and musical character resembles Shakey Graves. A character that is clearly apparent by the album cover.

His voice is often one that would accompany an acoustic guitar. While I usually am not crazy about country like sounds, the juxtaposition between the banjo chords and Burt’s scorching yet eloquently soft vocals-and at times pop like- keep his sound from being boxed in under one genre. The result is an entirely new category of folk.

The first few tracks on the album set a bold, catchy and dance like vibe that sets the tone and picture for the entire EP. First track “Surprise” and single “Breathe Your Last” create a frenzied and chaotic pace with different styles of instrumentation mostly rooted from precise banjo chords. It is a very genuine sound pushed to new limits with Burt’s far stretching vocals and gut-wrenching lyrics, which swoon in chorus lines likes “Will you, will you breathe your last?”

There is an interesting multi-purpose approach to the EP in terms of Burt’s usage of both the banjo and electric guitar. It almost sounds fancy at some points, such as the upbeat, full-band sound that comes from tracks “Let It Pass” and “Everything Is Changed.”

There is never a point of consistency or dull moment to this EP. The upbeat tempo later transitions into a more stripped down sound in tracks “Falling” and “Diving Bell”, forcing the spotlight on Burt’s impressive vocal range, and later settling into a serene atmosphere complete with a hard to miss yet subtle cameo from the xylophone.

While the EP is very well done, I have a strong feeling Burt is one of those rare artists that can’t condense his authenticity and rare sound into a six-track EP. Even as his passion for music is dripping in each song, Burt is a musician you have to see live to completely grasp his one-of-a-kind sound and energy.

It is a charming EP, to say the least. Burt takes many risks in experimenting with different sounds to make for a unique and captivating result. Think alternative meets folk.

Burt wrote, recorded and performed much of Carnivore on his own, then enlisted two long-time collaborators and multi-instrumentalist Dallas Kruse and bassist Dave Best to coproduce the final stages and bring new life to each song.

If I lived in LA, I’d check out his upcoming, full-band show at The Hotel Café on May 26th and I’d also check out both Carnivore and his previous EP Pronto-whether you live in LA or not.

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