John & Jacob
‘John & Jacob’ (John and Jacob Records)
Reviewed by Paul Nicholson (@magpie5uk)
Have you ever had one of those family gatherings where ages range from kids to grandparents? Choosing the music to have on in the background can be a nightmare. The little ‘uns moan that it’s too old fashioned, or granny complains that this modern rubbish is just a noise. Well, a solution is at hand in the form of John & Jacob, with their debut, self-titled album.
Hailing from Pinson, a small city in Alabama, the duo moved to Nashville to pursue their musical dream. It has proved to be an inspired decision.
I first came across them when they were performing an acoustic set while supporting The Shires on tour in the UK earlier this year. From the first verse of their first song I was hooked. By time their performance was over, I knew they were destined for big things.
The album is a fantastic listen. It is unique, fresh and, for want of a better description, just simply very, very good.
They are bracketed in the Country Music genre, but to be honest, it’s a little unfair to limit their sound to one category. They are steeped in a rock ‘n’ roll sound, reminiscent of the Del Shannon, Bobby Darin mould, which will have the older generations bee-bopping in their chairs. Yet the younger music aficionados will enthuse at hearing similarities between newer ‘pop’ bands like McFly and The Feeling.
The eclectic collection is like a mash up of every Frankie & Benny’s CD you’ve ever listened to while tucking into their Lunchtime Special Menu.
The album kicks-off with their single ‘Ride With Me’, a melodic mix of guitars, harmonica and harmonies, that sum up everything that makes up John & Jacob. It’s like a 2 minute and 47 second showpiece of their talents, that’s guaranteed to have you subliminally toe-tapping along.
It’s the harmonies that are the stand out feature of their style. That said all of the percussion instruments on the tracks – whether it is harmonica in ‘Ride With Me’, or the trumpet and whistling (Yes, there’s whistling!) of ‘Be My Girl’ – are performed by the two of them, and not their band.
‘Breaking The Law’ is another fifties/sixties style track, with great guitar riffs, more incredible harmonies. It is infectiously likeable.
The pace slows a little for ‘Guilty Face’, a soulful track, before bursting back into slightly higher-tempo life with ‘Be My Girl’, complete with the aforementioned whistling and trumpets. It’s a track that you may recognise, as it was featured in the hit TV show Nashville.
‘Summer’ and ‘Brand New’ provide more of the same throwback, head-nodding, sing-along melodies. By now you’ll be reaching for the repeat button on the car stereo as you’ll already know you want…no, wait…NEED to listen to the CD again.
‘The Weekend’ along with ‘Think About You’, for me, are the highlights of the album. I want to tell you how good these songs are, but I could not possibly do them justice with a mere 26 letters of the alphabet. Suffice to say, it has everything that’s good about music.
The final track of this musical feast is ‘Give It Away’, and oh boy, do they see you off with a bang. It’s a slightly edgier track, with an amazing guitar ostinato playing through it from start to finish.
You may think I am gushing about my love for this album a little too much, but once you’ve listened to it, you’ll understand why. It’s not one of those albums you have to hear four or five times before it grabs you. It gets you from the start of track one.
The CD is a must buy and the band are a must see.
John & Jacob are performing a headline tour of the UK in October. Catch them in the small venues listed below if you can, because they won’t be playing venues this intimate for long.
John & Jacob – LIVE
08/10/15 Stereo – Glasgow, UK
09/10/15 Voodoo Rooms – Edinburgh, UK
11/10/15 Louisiana – Bristol, UK
12/10/15 Wedgewood Rooms – Portsmouth, UK
14/10/15 Birmingham Institute – Birmingham, UK
15/10/15 O2 Academy 2 – Oxford, UK
16/10/15 The Haunt – Brighton, UK
18/10/15 The Deaf Institute – Manchester, UK
19/10/15 Borderline – London, UK