Monday, 27 January 2014

LUKE JACKSON

CD Review

Fumes and Faith

He may still be classed as a teenager but there is nothing immature about Luke Jackson's second album Fumes and Faith. The prolific Jackson, who last year was nominated for both the Horizon and the Young Folk awards, has written all 11 tracks on this disc which leads you to believe the guy is dripping in talent.

Luke Jackson who has released his second album
If these two albums are his starting points then his later offerings, as he grows musically and emotionally, are destined to become classics.
Jackson who works out of Cambridge said: "I suppose More Than Boys was my story of growing up, but F&F takes the story on and looks at friends and other people's journeys as well as songs drawn from my own experiences."
F&F doesn't have that grab you by the ears sound to open with but as the first track Sister unfolds, it gradually draws you in until you find yourself coming to a standstill feeling almost compelled to listen.
It has some of those elements of that incredible track of Prince Sign of the Times, where it takes a while for it to dawn that this is a great song.
Jackson builds the layers on this song mixing the feel of both Delta and Chicago blues and often blurring the lines between any distinction.
He slides into a soft ballad, Father and Son, which is full of emotion and will resonate with anyone who has lost or suffered an absent parent. The words express so well the questions which are left behind when relationships break up or are severed. The title track is a wolf in sheep's clothing it has a slightly jaunty almost hypnotic beat to it which makes it sound easy listening. However, once the cadence slides unnoticed into the background the words seems to stand out clearly telling the story of the underbelly of society and how many of us are living our lives.
Answers Have Gone, perhaps more than any on the album, shows what a great voice Jackson has for blues with minimal backing, a simple beat and the occasional strumming of his guitar never get in the way of his singing. He has an unusual quality in that his voice is so smooth with no trace of the gritty growling of many blues singers and yet he is no less effective for that.
He really slows things down with Out Of Time which is a thoughtful and reflective ballad that again uses minimal accompaniment. His singing has that morose quality similar to the haunting sound of Kris Drever.
Buried Dreams seems to have more than a hint or perhaps a homage to Martyn Joseph which wouldn't be that surprising as he is a protege of the highly respected singer/songwriter.
There is almost a theme running through this album with so many tracks referring to relationships with parents but what makes Father's Footsteps stand out above the other tracks is that it sounds like the real Jackson, like he has shrugged off any influences and allowed his raw persona free reign in this Americana offering which seems to have a native American beat underneath.
The versatility of Jackson's singing really shines with Charlie in the Big World Now. He really has gorgeous tones that can make you feel like you are drifting on a slightly choppy sea as you undulate with the lyrics, being drawn along with the narrative which has some really cool threads such as: "He told us his father planted the old conker tree, a hundred years ago today but he is only 53. Well we rolled around laughing, we said he's a liar can't you see?"
Jackson's new album Fumes and Faith
Down to the Sea is one of those songs which has nothing to do with you and yet somehow is so evocative and full of human emotion that it is able to tap into your memories and make you think about growing up and losing touch with those with whom you spent so much time with when younger acting as though the world was never going to change.
It wouldn't really be a blues album if there was a mention somewhere of the legendary crossroads. Ghost at the Crossroads is a footstomper which is obviously a homage both to the musical style and the musicians who made it great.
Jackson has tried to cram every element, every cliche about the blues into this single track but not in a piss taking way, well not entirely anyway, but more than anything a true homage and respect for those who have created a tradition upon which he now rides.
Just as the opening track creeps up on the listener so the final one sneaks out with Jackson leaving a haunting trail which is delicious to listen to.
If Joseph has had much of a hand in moulding this young artist, and it seems he does, then he can be rightly proud. Jackson is a real talent who is starting off from a place many never attain even after many years so what comes next stands a chance of being something pretty special.

Fumes and Faith is on the Pipe Records label and will be released on February 10 and there is a launch gig at Cecil Sharp House on February 12. Tickets are £10 on 020 7485 2205.

You can also catch Luke on February 26 at the Red Lion Folk Club, Kings Heath, Birmingham.