The place where so many solo performers go wrong is that they don’t do anything to set themselves apart from the competition. They become like a wallpaper pattern, which at first is rather jarring but after looking at it for long enough becomes conventional.
Anyone can pick up a guitar and strum a few chords and then write some dumb songs about falling in and out of love and shattering heartbreak that they think they themselves are alone in this world and then go out and perform them at bars and clubs and make records and try to pander to crowds who don’t mind their music to be as interchangeable as a pair of shoes.
Yorkshire solo artist (and there should be an emphasis here on the word artist, as he is as visually concerned about his packaging as he is about the goods contained within) Jackson D separates himself from the pack of solo artists in much the same way that David Bowie and Tom Waits did.
He uses his unique voice, which is a sculpted baritone, to draw listeners in to hear what it is he is singing about. His debut solo record aptly titled Face, is a Pied Piper of a record that will have you following its lustrous songs from beginning to end.
Face opens with the cryptic “Hit Girl.” With its lounge act swoon and hints of blues and surf rock guitars it showcases Jackson D’s signature style. This continues on the luridly wicked slow burn of “Bewitched By You” which plays on the spaghetti western soundtrack schematics. Its slow and Spanish guitar is the perfect pairing for Jackson D’s soothing storytelling vocals.
Then he hits the mark a little closer to late period Bowie with his cryptic baritone cooly sung over a crisp and clean guitar riff, and then sprinkled here and there with some female “do do do do” vocals on the irresistible wonder that is “Extraordinary Face.”
In fact Jackson D channels Bowie quite a bit on this album. And he like Bowie knows how to use aesthetics to the best of his abilities, but in a more subtle way than Bowie usually did. Take the cool and elusive “Fashion Girl” and the James Bond inspired artistry of “Italian Vogue” and you understand that Jackson D is taking the gloss and sheen of so much of the coolness of pop culture even taking a little bit of that Elvis vibe and throwing it into the pot. And then he hits you with a sad slow dance crooner like “Birthday” and you realize you are in the hands of a true talent, a singer and songwriter who is a master of his craft.
With the release of Face, Jackson D has emerged as a new and unique talent that is exactly what many music lovers who are tired of the same old recycled record company offerings and bands who seem to be making music because it’s their job and no longer their passion. Passion is something that Face is full of, and it’s a dammed welcomed change to a world of music that seems to have sometimes reached the pinnacle of complacency.
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