Cold But Bright is Jamie Flett’s first release having spent a long time listening and playing. The music assembled almost by stealth while living something of a double life working in the relative peace of a library by day and writing and recording in the time left over in the evenings.
It’s an album full of subtle melodies, memorable in a gentle, understated way. Some unexpected harmonies weave stories in songs like Ruby and Pearl that reverberate as if from a deep sea cave full of old pirates' bones and booty. By turns lamenting, uplifting then sometimes angry and frustrated or downright belligerent with a world and a way of life that fall under an occasionally jaundiced gaze, witness that of the observer in Only the Good Die Young.
However, there is love and even optimism to be found in this record despite some of the melancholy overtones and the sheer joy of making organised noise is apparent in one or two extended arrangements like the album opener Pond Life. The organic textures of acoustic instruments like accordion, mandolin, banjo and home-made percussion have a warmth reminiscent of the living room fire beside which they were often recorded.
Within the lyrics are questions that do not always have answers, characters like Roxy from blasted evenings in the city and observations on the mysterious tightrope walk of being a human. There is a search for some honesty without necessarily spelling anything out for you. These words are from someone who has been thinking and now wants to leave you thinking.
With an undeniable nod to his undenied influences from across the pond Jamie brings in blues, bluegrass, country and gospel when he feels like it. The Scottish connection to some of the musical colours from that continent is an ever-present current here. You can hear echoes of Neil Young, Bill Callahan, Tom Waits, James Yorkston, Townes Van Zandt, Alasdair Roberts or John Martyn if you want to.
It’s a record to listen to over a cup of tea or a generous measure of whisky or on a drive off the beaten track without definite destination. One of those with enough layers that you don’t grow tired of it and throughout which you keep unearthing hidden moments you might have missed the first time you listened.
The 'Bluesbunny' had this to say: " Let's look at the case of Jamie Flett and his album "Cold But Bright". There's no sing along hook in any of the songs but, to tell the truth, I doubt that it was ever meant to be that kind of album. Instead this is a tastefully assembled collection of songs that reflect on life. In terms of style, our Mr Flett looks back to times long ago when the singer songwriter was not an object of contempt. Indeed there is a certain poetry to his words, a certain world weariness to that rasping voice that bears comparison to the likes of Jesse Colin Young but where this album excels is in the hypnotic influence it exerts upon you. It's not an album to browse through; it's an album to listen to in its entirety whilst looking out over the city at night. The best track to these ears was the elegiac "Rain Hymn" - a trip down redemption road that is well worth taking.
"Cold But Bright" is a mellow and satisfying album. It's as simple as that. "