Jamie T–The Man’s Machine

For someone who began their career with careening, gritty tales of English youth just this side of hip hop, Jamie T has made a surprising career of late at producing delicate, melancholy masterpieces.  His best songs are deeply personal, eschewing universality for intimate and specific detail of his own life.  From even his first record, he’s been frank about his anxiety and depression has played an ever growing role in his work.  The Man’s Machine deals head on with the grind of life and the trap that home can become.  The song is simultaneously a dream of escape and an admission of defeat to a hopeless struggle.  “Seems even if I go away/There’s always a part of me willing to stay,” he nearly shouts, knowing he’s tethered to the agonies and expectations of home.  But the song manages to find joy in his time on the road in America, if only briefly.  There is a sense of freedom as he recounts the moments he’s lived between the coasts (“I’m a dragnet right through the city of sin”).  But the pull is too strong, with the comfort of the familiar winning out over the novel.  After all, the first true lines of the song are “Better the devil you know/I guess it was the lesser of the two evils.”  By the end of the song, he has succumbed to the weight, defeated, reciting a hopelessly grey refrain:

Stone, glass, concrete and gravel/All we’ve got to keep us together                                    Stone, glass, concrete and gravel/Underground travel in overcast weather                     Stone, glass, concrete and gravel/All we’ve got to keep us together                                  Stone, glass, concrete and gravel/Maybe one day things will get better

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