Born in Bristol, England, Jamie N Commons moved with his family to Chicago when he was six, and for the eight years or so he lived there, he fell heavily under the influence of the blues and Southern American roots music. He returned to England to study music in London at Goldsmiths in New Cross, finally emerging in his early twenties with a hoarse, gravel-laced voice that belied his years and a dark, Americanized Southern swamp gospel blues vision of songwriting that made him sound at times like a slightly gothic version of Tom Waits. The six-song, Alex da Kid-produced Rumble and Sway is his second EP, and although there aren't a lot of tracks on it, one can feel Commons drifting closer to his own unique sound, with several of these cuts benefiting from the use of horns and brass, extending Commons' vision into bigger, deeper territory. The opening track, "Rumble and Sway," is a classic, with the brass touches giving it depth and a forward push at just the right moments. The second track, "Wash Me in the Water," is equally as strong, with a huge Southern gospel feel. Then there's the odd, striking concluding track, the Rick Rubin-produced "The Preacher," which comes complete with a spoken word Internet-themed "promo" spot in the middle, a bold move that takes a song that sounds like it came from the century before and tosses it firmly into the 21st century. Commons is on his way somewhere, and if Rumble and Sway feels like a transitional affair, it also feels like a good transition, pointing to the possibility of a masterpiece just around the bend.
AllMusic Review by Steve Leggett