Saturday 1 October 2011

(I Can't Get No) Stevie Jackson

One of my favourite guitarists is Stevie Jackson from Belle and Sebastian. Stevie makes it look easy, he is inventive with his riffs and licks, understands that simple can be best at times and he looks good when he is playing, at ease with his instrument. He also has some very sharp suits...

Stevie has just his long awaited debut solo album, the title showcasing his sense of humour from the start....(I Can't Get No) Stevie Jackson.

I've literally just downloaded the album, (you can too by clicking HERE) so this review is very much on first listen. For Stevie's own reflections on each song, head to the songs section of his website.

Pure of Heart
Is a gentle opener, a love song looking back, the lyrics are playful at times, more serious at others

Need a friend to be my lover, And I know there’ll be other, I’ll be Pure of Heart

Just, Just So To The Point
Is straight into a groove, hushed playful (again) vocals, there is a nice break in the song towards the end and some gorgeous strings.

Houston we don’t have a problem, Tom Hanks, no thanks
To the promise of a better world (Goodbye Apollo 13)

Try Me
Third song in and we get what I would describe as the most 'Stevie' track to date. It's 60's mod/beat, simple and effective, it's got a groove again but in a different way from 'Just...'. I can't wait to hear and see this performed live. This flies along.

At 37 I was still in your tree, I’d pass for 33 so Try Me
I got pills and I’m looking for thrills
At the same time I want to start a family Try Me Try Me

Richie Now
Is another song reflecting on the past, this time a friend who Stevie shared a taste in music and dreams. There is a gorgeous section featuring harmonies with the singer Rose Melberg.

He has every Beatle record and me I only had one…
‘Twist and Shout’ EP
 from 1963
He talked of 
‘Rubber Soul’
 and wonder would unfold.

Dead Man's Fall
A kind of pastoral song (if that is an expression that makes sense), acoustic and melodic, some great harmonies and backing vocals with a great 'doo-wap-da-doowap-da' section.

Remember the time that I fell, for you it meant nothing at all
Playing at dead man’s fall, you ran down the hall

Abbey View
Reflects on changes in modern times; how things changing, being demolished or renovated, were once new. This is a lovely slow acoustic number really highlighting how beautiful Stevie's voice is and his ability to find a melody with ease.

What was old once was new, taking a bird’s eye view

Man of God
Another more upbeat number with Stevie referencing soul music in his own notes (and indeed in the song lyrics at the end). The beat, strings and guitar riffs certainly reflect on his influences. This is another song I can't wait to hear (and see) live as I can really see Stevie getting into it.

Hear the voice of Donny Hathaway and the Detroit Emeralds
Playing on my turntable for youAnd the Love Unlimited Can you feel the need in me? 
Can you feel the need?Rock my boat, baby rock the ocean

On first listen I'd kind of liken this to the most 'Belle & Sebastian' song so far. Hey, I can't imagine many people will review this album without a mention of Stevie's band. I love the feeling in the production, the melody and the trumpet and these lyrics are great.

For Life is never certain in the slightest sense of meaning
Feel the Universal time with fullness of my Being

Where Do All The Good Girls Go? 
Good question Stevie....According to his notes, Mr Jackson has had this song since he was 17 and you can certainly imagine someone at that age coming up with a title like that. Plenty of hmour in this song with Stevie showcasing his French skills and again this could be a great live song. I love when it moves up a gear before the stomping instrumental complete with handclaps. It becomes quite Kinksy after the instrumental.

Where do they go? 
There’s none that I can see 
Where do they go? Où est la belle vie?Where do they go?

Telephone Song
I really love this song, another one reminiscing of the past, simpler times, wanting to call someone, carving her number on the wall, running in the rain with your mates...The opening verse is superb (below), the strings are suitably uplifting at the right moments.

Money and style and friends and work
Music and sex and art and scene
Boys and girls and drugs and dreams
That’s you girlThere’s a lot to be said for a telephone line
I could call you up I could make it so fine

Press Send
Another song that totally highlights Stevie's sense of humour, again, without wishing to repeat myself, this will be fab live. Loads of playful backing vocals as Stevie wonders if he should send an email and he doesn't need a spellcheck to spell out the letters 'I Love You'.

I was told that I should phone her but talking’s never been my scene
(Don’t send, do send, don’t send, do send) 

I’ve been staring at my letter and “SEND” is jumping out from the screen 
(Don’t send, do send, don’t send, do send)
I don’t need a spell check to spell out the letters I love you “L U V”
(Don’t send, do send, don’t send, do send)

Feel the Morning
Described by Stevie as a very spontaneous recording, it has that lovely warm production feeling that can be hard to replicate if ti isn't captured live. There is a country tinge to this song, Stevie's vocals are stunning, as are the harmonies and the hook 'HEY, you mean so much to me' is so simple and so brilliant. There is a real looseness to the playing, beautiful steel guitar riffs and handclaps that just add to the feeling. A great way to close the album.

The more I saw you, I can’t forget you, I want to see you soon  
I’m a flower and it’s raining, it really does me good  
Feel the morning, feel the evening, feel the same way too  
I have see it and I like it, so how about you?

So, there you have it a review as I listened to the album. I can't wait to listen to it again and I would certainly recommend buying it, along with tickets to see Stevie at Tuts (if you are in Glasgow, check his website or the flyer above for tour dates).

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