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Review: Jimmy Napes - The Making of Me

Meet the man behind Sam Smith's 'Stay With Me'

Review: Jimmy Napes - The Making of Me

Jimmy Napes - The Making Of Me is out now.

Simon Fearn

W!ZARD News Author

Chances are, you have never heard of Jimmy Napes, yet he’s been responsible for a handful of mega-hits in recent years. From Disclosure’s ‘Latch’ to Sam Smith’s ‘Stay With Me’ and Clean Bandit’s (seemingly omnipresent) ‘Rather Be’, one could say Napes has a gift for songwriting. His first EP under his own name, The Making of Me, shows hints of Sam Smith’s soulful ballads, flavoured with Disclosure-esque EDM. The songs have a glacial perfection to them, with choruses that simmer enticingly to the backdrop of restrained synths. It’s difficult to believe that Napes has only now decided to take on vocal duties himself when you hear the quality of his voice. Although he lacks the power of Smith’s mighty vocal chords, he’s still endowed with a soulful smoothness, which he exploits to perfection by multi-tracking his vocals to create lush harmonies.

All three songs on the EP are at heart fairly straightforward love songs, as the piano version of ‘Keep You to Myself’ reminds us. In order, the songs meditate on the sacrifices we’re willing to make for love; the feeling that a relationship is all that matters in your life; and the transformative effect love has on us. All fairly simple stuff without any majorly original lyrics, yet what gives the songs an added spark is the sheer stylishness of the finished product. Moments such as when the synth drone raises to a fever pitch on the first verse of ‘Give it Up’ before breaking into the chorus, or where the harmonised call-and-response chorus of ‘Keep You to Myself’ sounds like it’s drowning in the percussive bass, constantly remind us of Napes’s talent.

Napes knows that less is more, the songs are all the better for their occasionally sparse instrumentation and infectious yet restrained choruses. Napes’s vocals on ‘Give It Up’ and ‘Keep You to Myself’ have an understated intimacy that can turn stereotypical pop song lyrics into something more special. The tinkling countermelody in ‘Give it Up’ and the addition of female backing vocals in ‘Making of Me’ are all loving garnishes that add greatly to each song. Occasionally, Napes gets it wrong. At the beginning of ‘Making of Me’, we’re overwhelmed by lush strings, and it sounds like we’ve been dropped in the middle of a film soundtrack, before all of this drops out and we’re just left with the bass synth riff and piano. It’s all a little bewildering. But as the song progresses, becoming truly dramatic by the bridge as the strings make a reappearance, we’re glad we’ve kept listening.

It seems unlikely that Napes will have the same impact as Smith and Disclosure, the lucky benefactors of his Midas touch. But that does not detract from the fact that these songs, whilst perhaps not being as infectious as ‘Rather Be’ or ‘Stay With Me’, are still a great listening experience and deserve to get plenty of recognition.

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