Singer-songwriter Jimmie Allen has been working on honing his music for years, but it was the release of his debut single Best Shot that brought him to many people’s attention. The song is shaping up to be a huge hit – it’s currently at number 5 on the US country charts – and has won him fans both here and in the US. Allen released his debut album Mercury Lane earlier this month, and now he’s making his first trip to the UK supporting labelmate Chase Rice, including a show at London’s Bush Hall for Country Music Week.
Accompanied by guitarist Ian, Allen opened his set with Blue Jean Baby, taken from his self-titled EP. It’s a pop-influenced track with vivid imagery and showed off the richness and depth of his vocal. Members of the audience could be seen dancing along and they gave Allen a huge cheer as he sang the final lines.
Allen kept the energy high throughout with uptempo numbers like the summery, singalong Make Me Want To, County Lines’ clever wordplay and Back Of Your Mind. He frequently encouraged the crowd to join in and was warm and fun in his interactions with them, leading a chorus of Happy Birthday for one fan and cracking jokes about Harry Potter with another.
However, I felt Allen was strongest vocally in the slower numbers. Underdogs let him unleash the power in his voice, whilst the heartfelt Warrior (which Allen introduced with a touching story about his grandma’s scarf which he wears during every performance) painted a vivid and moving picture of the role his mum and grandma play in his life.
One particularly strong moment for me came during Spinnin’ My Wheels, which Allen introduced with a story about his writing process and commitment to music. His vocals soared over the sparse melody and were filled with passion and conviction, yet delivered with great control. Towards the end of the song he finally let go, hitting one massive note, and got the loudest cheer of the night. It was a magical moment and showed that he’s got one of the best voices in country music right now.
After thanking the crowd and taking a quick snapshot, Allen closed his set with the hopeful Best Shot, which summed up everything that was great about his performance. His soulful voice rang out through Bush Hall, particularly on the chorus, and I liked the gravelly edge that crept in too. The audience were dancing and waving their hands in their air and when Allen stepped away from the mike they could be heard singing along in full voice, before exploding in cheers and applause.
Jimmie Allen was one of the artists I’d been looking forward to during Country Music Week and he didn’t disappoint. He delivered an uplifting set full of stunning vocals and with plenty of energy throughout, as well as showing his versatility as a performer. On the strength of last night’s performance he’s shown why he’s definitely one to watch. Fingers crossed it won’t be long before he’s back over here again!
Set list: 1. Blue Jean Baby 2. Happy Birthday 3. County Lines 4. Underdogs 5. Spinnin’ My Wheels 6. Back Of Your Mind 7. Make Me Want To 8. Warrior 9. Best Shot Performance date: 23rd October 2018