Organic, genuine and makes you go, “Whoa, didn’t see that coming.” Musically the contents of ‘Totem’ are easy to follow, led by Mikey Jamieson ’s 10 left-handed guitars, and quietly served with genres such as bossa, rockabilly, and industrial country – the genius is in its veiled simplicity.
No matter where Jamieson takes his songs (and there are 21 of them here), my mind still conjures up imagery; from the sinister overtones of Empty Kitchen Blues to the ‘I’ve loved growing old with you’ ditty Dancing In The Rain and the hip-tugging pull of What’s In A Day.
Gently enhanced by Kate Roberts, the vocals adequately convey the story as layers of guitar melodies mesh with the subtle groove, a definite high point of the album. Jamieson plays all manner of other instruments, formal and less so – like tea chest bass, beer shakers and suitcase snare – with some assistance from engineer/producer Lorenzo Buhne on fretless bass and rhythm instruments.
Like watching a staunch, awkward love story evolve through the pitfalls and joys of life, it’s a great and surprising body of work that keeps you listening in case you miss something. Released on Wellington’s Tasman Records, this can be warmly recommended for open-minded old souls with a penchant for nostalgia.