Luke Jackson goes back to the future, revisiting his debut album from ten years ago.
Release date: 26th August 2022
As a young 18-year-old, yet with several years’ worth of songs already in his pocket, Luke Jackson recorded his debut album More Than Boys. Under the wing of Martyn Joseph, the three days spent recording the eleven songs polished into shape in his live set, focussed on guitar and voice. Very much a ‘solo’ record with a sprinkle of production. Written from the perspective of a young man, the fascination is with how he interprets the same songs ten years on as he celebrates the ten-year anniversary by revisiting the whole album.
What’s gratifying to hear is Luke say how he’s “fallen back in love” with the album. After all, how often are the fledgling recordings disowned or denied by musicians and bands as embarrassing first-time attempts in the studio? The answer my friend, may not be blowing in the wind, but in the strength of the songs. Yes some of them may be the last vestiges of the passing of childhood – playing footy, climbing trees, contemplating the passage of time – but when else could you offer such a perspective?
A nice take on the original and new album covers, the hair now combed back rather than forward.
He’s been faithful to the original recordings in restriction himself to guitar and vocal, while admitting that he feels he’s progressed as a singer and guitarist from that period. – check the lovely ringing picking on Winning Goal. The latter is undeniable, yet what has changed is some of the perspectives. He talks of the strange feeling of “growing into my own songs” – the prime example, the youngster portrayed in Baker’s Woods (“climbing trees in Baker’s Woods, With my two best friends“) is a nostalgic look back while How Does It Feel? comes to fruition as the children (Luke and his sister) leave home to answer the question for his parents.
Re-evaluating the recordings, the chance to sit the two versions of each song, ten years part, is one we’ve opted to resist and take More Than Boys (revisited) as a new experience. It feels slightly strange listening, as it maybe did for Luke to revisit (although several songs have remained part of his growing repertoire), almost like listening to a new album. It’s particularly poignant as he sings the same “how does it feel to see your children grow and face the world?” And as he also sings, “one day I may know…”
Of a stellar debut album, Last Train has always been a personal favourite track, veering dangerously near the top of any Luke Jackson playlist and listening now, it’s difficult to comprehend how it originally came from a teenager. I have to confess to dipping back to the original and to try to quantify what these new performances bring to the songs, the word ‘experience’ comes to mind. The segue into “how many roads must a man walk down before you call him a man” is a telling one; it might sound a little cheesy, but the road journey has seen Luke become a man.
Little subtleties keep you on your toes; the lovely ringing guitar at the start of the title track and the occasional phrase shows how the songs have grown. In fact the project, simple ideas are always the best, is an exercise in growth – growth of a person, growth of a musician and growth of a set of songs. Flying in the face of any fears of growing old, revisiting the past can be an uncomfortable encounter, but Luke Jackson carries it off with brimming confidence and pride.
Here’s a reminder of the ‘older’ version of Last Train: