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Just Jack - Overtones

Just Jack, Overtones

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

JUST Jack is far from the new kid on the block that many people think he is. The artist – aka Jack Allsop – first took a shot at the big time in 2002 with the release of his debut LP, The Outer Marker.

But that got ignored amid the deafening chorus of adulation that was being reserved for Mike Skinner’s The Streets. And that was a shame.

For my money, Just Jack offers a much better alternative – a sparkling wordsmith with a smoother style and a stronger sense of melody. His music is much, much easier on the ear and a damn site more pleasing.

Take current top 5 hit Starz In Their Eyes as a prime example. It’s idetifiable in a pop-friendly kind of way without being overly cheesy.

The funky bassline, clap-happy disco beats and hopelessly catchy chorus have delivered Just Jack the type of success he has always been craving and long since deserved.

The same can be said for the rest of the sophomore album, Overtones, an intoxicating, even disarming blend of of hip-hop, disco, house and funk.

Album opener Writer’s Block begins with some sweeping harp strings and a lone female vocal before Jack drops a vocal lament about writer’s block. It’s snappy, packed with sly pop-culture references and sets the standard nicely – especially the sung boy-girl chorus.

Glory Days opens amid an excerpt from the dawn chorus, a cheeky whistle and some sharp stabs of brass that ease you into a relaxed state of mind and a feelgood mood. Jack’s vocals continue the easygoing vibe.

But Disco Friends slows things down a little, dropping a melancholy keyboard, some finger clicks and a subtle beat to deliver the closest thing Just Jack comes to a ballad. It’s a haunting, memorable change of pace that demonstrates the extent of this artist’s skills.

Elsewhere, I Talk Too Much drips with 80s sensibilities and contains a heavy electronic emphasis that isn’t always as hip as the earlier tracks, while the scratch-laden Symphony Of Sirens feels like an awkward mix of ’80s-era hip-hop and Mike Skinner.

But Hold On is another melt-the-heart blend of soft acoustic guitars, drum loops and kitsch electronics that find the album at its most disarming.

And Mourning Morning is a strings-laden outpouring from the heart that finds Jack at his most tender and reflective. It’s a quietly reassuring listen that catches you completely off-guard from a lot of what’s come before.

By the time the album swings round to its satisfying final track, Spectacular Failures you’ll have been completely won over.

Overtones is an excellent second album that should deservedly bring Just Jack the rewards he has patiently been waiting for.

Download recommendations: Glory Days, Disco Friends, Starz In Their Eyes, Hold On, Mourning Morning

Track listing:

  1. Writers Block
  2. Glory Days
  3. Disco Friends
  4. Starz In Their Eyes
  5. Lost
  6. I Talk Too Much
  7. Hold On
  8. Symphony Of Sirens
  9. Life Stories
  10. No Time
  11. Mourning Morning
  12. Spectacular Failures / Koolaid