There aren’t many songs that could be identified as ‘hits’ within Electro Swing, but of the few that could be said to have achieved that description, Jamie Berry stands tall as one of the biggest producers in the country, if not the world. Anyone stumbling across this genre will likely discover his music within the first ten or so tracks they listen to, and he’s established himself as the producer with perhaps the most representative sound of electro swing itself. With his new album, Light up the Night – out on the 11th of October – Berry continues to prove himself as just as adept at producing this style as ever.
Written by Chris Swinglis Date: 2019-09-01
The album opens with the title track and lead single, ‘Light Up The Night’, which sets us up with some gypsy jazz guitar before plunging straight into the trademark Berry house style. Working with frequent collaborator Octavia Rose, we find the type of feel-good lyrics that have become so associated with Berry’s music (think ‘Delight’; ‘Lost in the Rhythm’), and I especially like the trumpet over the wobbly bass that enters after the chorus. The slightly slower ‘Dance Dance’ continues with the feel-good lyrics – in fact, these continue throughout most of the album: ‘Charlie Stone’, and ‘The Trumpets’ promote similar themes later on. ‘Dance Dance’ also features the bass wobbles which form just as much a part of the Berry sound as anything else. We then follow with ‘Dirty Swingers’, the first instrumental of the album, which despite a slightly bizarre breakdown in the middle, will certainly be capable of filling dancefloors; it is incredibly upbeat, and just straight fun.
The fun continues with ‘Charlie Stone’, before ‘Make Me Lose My Mind’ presents us with the first track to feature some slightly darker overtones. In a minor key, and beginning with almost threatening horn and piano sounds, the song progresses throughout its duration to the point where we’re back to quoting ‘Sing Sing Sing’ towards the end – this is Jamie Berry we’re talking about after all. ‘Chicken Feet’ follows – our next instrumental, similar to ‘Dirty Swingers’, and one of the bounciest tracks I’ve ever heard – before another trademark Berry instrumental, ‘Shipshape’, featuring a bass that genuinely seems like it could not physically get any lower.
The final three tracks seem to bring us down a little in tone; parts of ‘The Trumpets’ are somewhat chilled – at least by Berry’s standards – but the themes remain very much the same: very danceable, joyful music. ‘Mighty Punch’, again, is slightly downbeat, but Berry manages to achieve exactly the feeling he is going for with this one. Every sound that appears works seamlessly with one another, and has been positioned in the perfect place. If I were to pick a favourite from the whole album, this may well be it. Finally, the album ends with Boondoogle, which – again starting off quite downbeat – initially seems like quite a strange way to close the album. This would be a mistaken impression however, as this is only the setup for a huge finale; halfway through, the song explodes into a drum ’n’ bass anthem which I wasn’t expecting at all. Without doubt, this was the right choice to finish the album, providing a welcome change from house, and proving that Berry is just as proficient at this genre as well.
It would be easy to dismiss Berry’s sound as being sometimes derivative, and it’s true to say that for the most part, he definitely sticks to a formula. However, it’s a formula that works, and what Berry does, he does very well. Indeed, nearly every song on this release could have worked equally well as the lead single, and in full honesty, I think that singles are probably better suited to Berry’s style than an album such as this. But that’s not a negative comment on any of the actual music itself; the songs are produced fantastically well, and his fans will not be disappointed. High praise must be given to Octavia Rose as well; her voice is totally suited to Berry’s sound, and as a team, they’ve managed to produce an admirable release.