Saturday, 23 August 2014

Luke Jackson @ Barista, 18.07.14

Luke Jackson has been creating waves for a while now. Emerging on the acoustic folk scene a couple of years back at the age of 18, but already with years of songwriting and performing behind him and further championed by established musicians such as Show Of Hands and Martyn Joseph, he’s a couple of albums into a career which is set to continue to soar.

While his impressive debut, More Than Boys, contained songs and stories about growing up and sounded very much like a young man finding his recording feet, his second effort was a different story. Fumes and Faith emerged earlier this year with a hail of marvellous reviews. With more of a blues feel to the songs, it proved quite a step in him rapidly becoming a confident and down to earth young man. To see him play in a tiny local venue – which sold out, naturally – was too good a chance to miss.

Whether he’s singing his own songs or covering the a cappella blues standard, ‘Grinning In Your Face’, the traditional ‘Man Of Constant Sorrow’ or ‘Beeswing’ by the legendary Richard Thompson, the two halves of the set were quality personified.

The gig also saw a couple of new songs thrown in, which seem to have taken him away from the bluesy ambience of his last recording. ‘Heart Of Stone’ and a touching, delicate ‘Flowers’, written around his experience of losing a friend in his teenage years, both bode well for the next record. With just ‘More Than Boys’ and a superbly rearranged  ‘Last Train’ from his first album in the set, Luke is definitely moving at a pace, not only in his writing but also in his stunning playing, ranging from dramatically strong and forceful to delicate picking, mixed expertly for the small venue.

Together with his own very distinct identity, Luke is now set with a sound and an increasingly broad set of unequivocally mature and self-assured songs – phrases which seem to be bandied about whenever Luke Jackson is mentioned. The bluesy approach of his latest work gives the impression of him being an artist who has suddenly grown up – rather like one of the characters about whom he sings, Charlie in the big world – and fulfilling the promise of becoming a musician of considerable stature.

Words & photos: Mike Ainscoe

The show was the last in the season of Playing Out gigs promoted by Rick Stuart whose Roots & Fusion show plays on Stockport’s PureFM. Watch out for shows in the Stockport area soon.

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