CD REVIEW: Luke Jackson - ...And Then Some
By Alex Jasperse - 10/19/2008 - 09:59 PM EDT
Artist: Luke Jackson
Album: …And Then Some 
Label: Opsicle Recordings
Production/Musicianship Grade: 9.0/10
Songwriting Skills: 8.5/10
Performance Skill: 9.0/10
Swaggering seamlessly through the classic sounds of Neil Young, George Martin and Brian Wilson, what Luke Jackson’s latest, …And Then Some, lacks in originality, makes up by the fact he’s created an album that’s insistent and difficult to ignore. It borders on the masterly, and while the sound may feel the same, Jackson’s managed to successfully make the same old song feel new again.
…And Then Some is a pop-rock musical feast – a tantalizing collection of audio confections – that never tries to overcome its associations. From the minute “Come Tomorrow” kicks in, it becomes a challenge to wipe a delirious smile off your face as you become swept into a snappy and upbeat ascension of vocal harmonies and mid-60s guitars that inject a euphoric sense of musical innocence into your consciousness. It’s almost disabling; the harder you try to figure out the reference for Jackson’s playing, the more you feel your efforts are being undermined and disabled by the fact that by the third run around of the chorus, you’re already singing along. It leaves you wondering how the hell he swept you over to the pop-rock side so effortlessly…
While you’re sitting there deciding whether to congratulate him or listen to the track again to see how he accomplished such a feat, “This Life” slyly enters with a knee-jerkingly beautiful string line that begins to wrap its warm arms across the soundscape. Transitioning into Jackson’s acoustic guitar playing and midrange vocals, it flourishes into a Beatles-esque instrumental verse complimented by oohs and ahhs that effortlessly sway in the far reaches of the background. Continuing on a mellow note, “Trouble” picks up with more of Jackson’s acoustic playing, introducing a lush palette of warm tonal colours, and incorporating several flute and celesta lines nearing the midpoint.
As an upbeat champion for the first half of the album, “Goodbye London” moves the sound from acoustic to electric, supporting Jackson’s rapid and vivid lyrical imagery with lines like Goodbye London, goodbye rainy South End Green/Goodbye Camden, goodbye dodgy Thai cuisine/I’m going to miss you, you always make me feel 15/Goodbye London, I won’t forget that you were always good to me. Picking up a similar momentum tracks later in “Half a World Away” and “Longest Day” the mature pop sound and sweeping production invite you to close your eyes and lie still to find yourself floating in its depths.
Ending with “The Fear”, Jackson introduces a big song that begins innocently enough with a downscale acoustic guitar line, that’s soon accompanied by a lap steel guitar before crescendoing into the warm embrace of a string section. Evoking a Pink Floyd “Wish You Were Here” sentiment, it balances happy and sad, as lyrics such as We’ve all got the disease, but we’ve all got the cure/We’ve all got the fear, but our hearts are all pure drift across a melancholic dreamscape, illustrating Jackson’s capability as a poet just as much as composer.
All the comparisons that could easily be made with the likes of Neil Young, George Martin and Brian Wilson become obliterated by the sheer songwriting strength of Jackson’s musical personality by the end of the album. He has effortlessly created his own sophisticated pop-rock sound that breathes a musical passion, allowing him to stand outside the shadows of his predecessors. …And Then Some is everything you could ask for: passionate and uncomplicated feel-good music, and then some.
The Verdict: 8.8/10
For more information, please visit Luke Jackson’s official website.
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