Jamie Freeman’s new album, Dreams About Falling, has a brilliant cover image – a sepia, 1930s picture taken from above and behind of a trapeze artist about to leap. “It’s that moment I’m interested in,” Jamie tells me. “All the work and preparation he’s done to arrive there. His whole life has led to this moment. Will he fly or will he fall?”
The album’s produced on the Union Music Label Jamie runs with his wife Stevie (who also runs Americana Music Association UK), but the making of it involved much greater collaboration. Produced by Neilson Hubbard, and recorded over a single five-day stint in Nashville, Jamie recounts how the musicians, like brilliantly prepared trapeze artists in their own right – and “with no ego – everyone you encounter in Nashville is a musician, and probably a better one than you!” – turned up and did their amazing thing each day before disappearing at 5 or 6pm – to be with their families, or do a gig or sometimes two in the evening.
“Nashville feels like my second home”, says Jamie, who lives in Cooksbridge, but has been spending time in the Tennessee capital for the last fourteen years, and has made many friends and contacts there. “And my favourite phrase is ‘the high tide floats all boats’ – people do things to help each other, and everyone benefits.”
The songs on the album have wonderfully accessible, and emotionally honest lyrics. (‘It’s an open heart: it can take a beating’, the first song, and single, All in The Name, starts.) Eight of the ten Jamie co-wrote – with, for instance, Angaleena Presley and poet Amy Tudor. “Songwriting is my thing”, says Jamie. “And co-writing is what I most love to do.”
So how does that work, I’m curious. “It’s brilliant”, he says. “You’re in a room with someone, with your notebook and a guitar, and one of you says something, and that’s the spark. So, we’d been talking, and Angaleena walked across the room, looked out of the window, and said “I miss those bars” while talking about something completely unrelated. And THAT’s where the song begins.”
Words have always been central to Jamie, from a childhood spent word-playing with his four siblings, who include musician Tim and actor Martin. And it was when he was with Martin, at a Paul Weller concert, in his late 20s, that Jamie, who in the interim had been “a punk, then into hiphop”, was re-introduced to the music he grew up on. “Paul Weller played a Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young song, and reminded me of a record we’d had at home, and we didn’t have many. The album was CSNY’s Déjà Vu, and the memory sent me on a voyage of rediscovery.
“Americana bats back and forth across the Atlantic”, he says, “so I feel a legitimate claim on it. You can’t sit in a café in Nashville without hearing the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Who, the Rolling Stones…”
Photo by James McCauley
Dreams About Falling launches at the Con Club on 16th May, 7.30pm, tickets £10. lewesconclub.com