Coming out of Perth but sounding like it could have arrived fresh from East London, Jamilla is a wonderful rising soul star in Australia. She’s been crafting layered and heartfelt music for a while now but these typical RnB stylings are stripped back for the lush, near six-minute single Love Himself. Known to her mum as Emily Branson, this song takes Jamilla back to the days when she sang under her own name, just her and her gently strumming guitar.
It’s a tender but hopeful slice of soul, her voice rich and comforting as the quiet instrumental allows her voice to soar. Prior to the lockdown restrictions, Jamilla was about to embark on an Australian and New Zealand tour with Great Gable, which has since been pushed back to October, and in the intervening time she took to finding other outlets of creativity. This single, then, comes with a humble and wonderful self-produced music video, a catalogue of the musician’s survival methods during the suffocating isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic (the video opens with the quote “An ode to isolation and the things that kept me sane”).
The song was originally written to mock dating experiences with egotistical boys but ends up like more of an intimately self-reflexive exercise, Branson realising how much she’s changed over the years since then: “I need a sad guy, bad guy, he’s always too high/ With his ripped jeans, his torn up dreams, he’s perfect for me”. We’re all a little foolish in love sometimes.
The lilting and melting ballad recalls the delicate soul of the excellent British artist Lianne La Havas and it will be interesting to see how much a future full record would make use of this rawer approach or if Jamilla will return to her high end production. Either way, Perth’s music scene is a richer place with her around.