This isn't Andre's first album – since moving to London some seven years back he's been honing his skills to the point where he was ready to pull together a band formed of session musicians who could him help realise his ambitions, has put together his own label to self-release 2009's There Was A Night Before There Was A Day and has been gigging around this year, selling the debut CD on what he describes as a "pay what you want basis".
Is this release a bit of consolidation and a survey of where Jarema, as a band, and Andre as its driving force have reach so far? Quite possibly, since I understand that of the ten tracks included here, only three are new songs with the remainder already having been aired in their original form as part of There Was A Night..., but then that seems a perfectly sensible way of reaching out to a wider audience and, not so much pausing to draw breath but evaluating and refining what has been established and achieved.
These are quite blunt and raw sounding songs – that's a lot of the point of this recording. "Live and raw music," notes Andre. "No editing, no dubbing. Just the band, live." That approach has a real effect to it, think something a bit like James, or Oasis particularly in acoustic mode, but played by The Levellers in an indie rock sometimes glancing over at pub rock manner. Think that, because sometimes you can hear that in the music – listen to 'Birth Sex Death' and particularly the powerful 'Half A Prisoner' for example (though that's almost pure Levellers, loose the James and Oasis analogy there). But there's also a mainland continental drift to some of what they're doing and they're playing with a nice sense of room, of space between the instruments, in their music – it might be raw but it has a breeze in it as well; 'Sleazy Song', which has a well developed and easy sense of groove to it, demonstrates that.
So, here's a collection of really engaging and entertaining songs that have a passion in their playing and a nicely off-kilter lyrical content that complements their defiantly lo-fi realisations. Jarema have some gigs coming up in November / December in Camden Town and a DVD launch that captures the visuals of the band cutting this album details of which are on their website - if I were up in town then I'd certainly go as I really enjoyed this album.