“AWOL (Absent Without Love)” is the latest single from California based singer/songwriter Saint Jaimz, a sixteen year US Army veteran who has turned his life in a much different direction once leaving the armed forces. Though I’m sure Jaimz doesn’t regret a single day he spent serving his country, even a single listen to “AWOL (Absent Without Love)” proves Saint Jaimz should have been doing this his entire life and has a real calling as a singer rather than just the workmanlike skills to make it work. The music is definitely cut from a smooth R&B or soul cloth, but there’s nothing imitative about what he does. Instead, he comes out fully formed, heads and tails above many peers and contemporaries, and full of natural passion for singing and music.

There’s a glossy sway to the music that never tests your patience. This is definitely a solid R&B entry with lots of soul, but there’s no question as well Saint Jaimz’s “AWOL (Absent Without Love)” has commercial appeal. The pop surface of the single helps make it more than just a potential live mainstay for Saint Jaimz, but gives it instant radio appeal as well. He’s obviously tailored the performance in such a way it may appeal to the widest possible audience rather than genre fans alone. Casual and serious music listeners alike will hear much to admire during this tune and it comes in at just the right running time to make a deep impression on Saint Jaimz’s audience.

The lyrics show how a recording artist and songwriter can revisit familiar themes and subject matters with his own language and representation of personal experience. We may have songs galore about this in popular music’s history, but no one could have written this take on the tradition quite like Saint Jaimz. He doesn’t sing against the musical arrangement but, instead, acts more like a lead vocalist for a band rather than a leader. Make no mistake, his voice is central to the song, but he never tries commanding the spotlight. His phrasing is spot on throughout the entirety of the cut and hits all the right peaks along the way.

“AWOL (Absent Without Love)” brings together a variety of instrumental sounds and weaves them together with a sense of balance that stands out on first listen. The song’s percussion is key to its success; it isn’t obtrusive, but sets an early groove that forms the track’s foundation. Overall, Saint Jaimz’s “AWOL (Absent Without Love)” is a near perfect marriage of arrangement, production, writing, playing, and singing. It sounds like Jaimz entered the studio to record this track with a clear vision for what he wanted to accomplish with this song. It plays as a fully realized number. He may have taken an unusual route arriving at this point, but Saint Jaimz has earned his growing reputation based on his talent and obvious commitment to the music. He may have come late to music, but songs like “AWOL (Absent Without Love)” are more than making up for lost time.


Sebastian Cole

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