Release Date: 8th November 2019
Label: First Take Records
Formats: CD/DVD, DL, vinyl
After first encountering Luke Jackson as a teenager and monitoring him closely, we find him striking out with his fifth album at the grand old age of twenty-five.
It’s been quite a remarkable journey, which is no doubt what someone will still be writing in another twenty or thirty year’s time about Luke Jackson. Back in 2012 when he released More Than Boys and went on tour with Martyn Joseph, he was marked as a prodigious talent. The turning point for me was seeing him in a tent at the Ramsbottom Festival when he opened his set with a staggering, at the time, unreleased song Sister that would appear on his second album Fumes And Faith.
No wonder that Ed Sheeran collaborator Amy Wadge has teamed up for gigs and tours with him; she knows how the cookie crumbles and we await their partnership to work its magic in the studio.
Meanwhile, Journals continues the rite of passage. Expectation is high and the goods are delivered as we rub shoulders with his solo acoustic roots that have increasingly evolved into band arrangements in a more blues and soul, jazz and rock and even gospel direction as his musical education has advanced. God bless him, he’s even supported Marillion, which in my book ticks a very important box.
On Journals, he’s accompanied by long term buddy/bassist Andy Sharps with the drum stool filled by Elliot Norris and piano from Jarrod Pinner. At the core though is the Jackson guitar; these days it’s often an electric too, and that voice whose richness and tone seems to be settling down to find it’s optimal range and quality as he shifts into a more American influenced path. It’s his road trips that fuel Journals – he talks of “the car journeys, the people I meet, service stations, conversations, lives, landscapes and cultures” that have shaped the songs.
From the close to home tale of A Queen In Her Own Way to the narrative of Red Oak (how I’d love to hear Springsteen have a go at this, the words are made for him) to his travels on the road on Home and onward to a young man’s view of the world, the songs are smartly observed vignettes in time.
There’s an easy country/American vibe on Aimee, one of several observations on relationships, life, love, and loss and he’s not only soaking up the influences of his surroundings but of his peers as he channels his inner Billy Bragg as he goes solo on Baby Boomers. However, the central track comes in the form of the darker, bluesy swing of Eliza Holt, where his own Sister crosses paths with the ghost of Eleanor Rigby and Strawberry Fields in a song inspired by childhood games in the grounds and graves of an 18th-century psychiatric hospital. Chilling enough before he adds his own ominous soundtrack to the scene.
Not being averse to doing a sterling job on a cover or two, check out his version of Richard Thompson’s Beeswing here:
However, he’s not only bold enough to cover RT, but it feels totally apt that Journals sees him tackling Sandy Denny’s timeless and almost sacrilegious Who Knows Where The Time Goes. It’s a question we may well ask and one that befits a retrospective look at this young man’s remarkable progress and prowess. The quality and range of Journals is set to become another significant mark on Luke Jackson’s trajectory.