Jamie T’s comeback album ‘Carry on the Grudge’, in retrospect, was signposted as his foray into “serious songwriting”. There were flashes of the man we knew and loved, that socially-conscious rap in a broken accent, but they were drowned out by the sensible scholar who, on the likes of ‘Don’t You Find’, was more or less crooning. On ‘Trick’, his quickfire full-length follow-up, that refinement has, for the most part, fallen by the wayside.
‘Trick’ is a record that feels like a trip back into what he once was, only with all his senses heightened. ‘Grudge’ was polished; this is as rough and ready as it gets. It’s not that there’s no progression; lead single ‘Tinfoil Boy’ is as heavy as anything he’s ever written, and ‘Police Tapes’ and ‘Drone Strike’ are scored through with a nervous tension that he hasn’t ever really allowed to bubble to the surface quite like this before.
‘Trick’ is, you suspect, the Jamie T unification record; it will go down a whole lot better with his noisy away-end following than ‘Grudge’ did, and the fact that it looks outward, rather than inward, should convince everyone else that he’s headed in the right direction. He’s certainly not shut himself off to new influences; you can feel Sleaford Mods weighing heavy on ‘Trick’, especially on ‘Tescoland’. There is a pace and a purpose about the album that should win over both halves of his fanbase. When ‘Grudge’ came out, there was a sense that he’d been embraced by old heads, that divergence into the typical singer-songwriter arena was going to be the way forward for him. Instead, he’s burned all of that down to the ground. ‘Trick’ is the aural document.