VIDEO: Jack Cheshire – Paperhouse (Safety First Records)

“It’s only once in a while that as a lowly reviewer, you recieve a record that could be of real significance. This is one of those rare finds … it’s lo-fi intensity is reminiscent of one the greatest records of the ’70s singer songwriter genre, Nick Drake’s ‘Five Leaves Left’.” – God Is In The TV

On 13 June 2011 acclaimed singer songwriter Jack Cheshire is to release his second album, ‘Copenhagen’ on Safety First Records. A video for ‘Paperhouse’, the album’s first track can be seen below.

With ‘Copenhagen’, Jack Cheshire has supplemented the sweetly-slurred melodies, kaleidoscopic finger-picking and intricately-layered musicbox psychedelia of his 2008 debut, ‘Allow It To Come On’, with shuffling, almost free-form drums, plucked and bowed double bass, heavenly melodies and an uncompromising sound and vision that sweep from micro to macro and from introspection to constellation. The results invite comparisons to ‘OK Computer’, ‘Forever Changes’ and ‘The Hour of The Bewliderbeast’, to follow previous references made to the likes of Devendra Banhart, Beck, Syd Barrett and Nick Drake.

Jack Cheshire has music to write, he has a need to express himself and as long as he is able to do so he will – whether you’re listening or not. If you do care to listen however then you will find yourself beguiled by velvety tones and led through a meandering maze of lyrically emotive experiences and laconic philosophical commentary.

A singer songwriter in the old school sense, an artist who sings his own mind, his own heart as he feels it; which is what gives his music its own distinctive sound, defined only by what he is feeling at any one time and delivered raw and unadulterated in an unaffected manner.

Born in Bath, England, Jack spent five years in Liverpool studying music, before moving down to London. His debut album ‘Allow it to come on’ (released in 2008) got the music press sitting up and listening and, alongside his live performances, garnered him a loyal and ever expanding fan base.

His second album Copenhagen is a mature work with a depth and substance not often found in this genre at the moment. More complex than it initially appears, it is not pasteurized and packaged easy listening… it’s provocative, it’s cerebral but also full of heart. Like its author much of its appeal lies in the way it is unapologetically itself with no desire to be anything else…

Copenhagen is inspired by the twilight spaces… those places where the veils that separate things are thinnest, where things blend. It is delicate yet gutsy, it speaks of places and spaces where ambiguity reigns and yet those spaces where chaos can condense into moments of pure clarity in an instant – to be grasped or lost, as you like. It is a haunting work where reality meets fantasy, fact and imagination blend and life is accounted for.

The album was recorded in an old chapel in rural Sweden. It was recorded in one go in a state of ‘off-grid submersion’; Jack and the other musicians involved isolated from the distractions of the day to day, no lines in no lines out. This gives the album an intensity and focus in its delivery as well as a real flow and unity to the sound. The almost surreal environment created has somehow transmitted its magic into the recording, perhaps it is details such as the bird song in ‘Saturn Returns’ which links the music to the space – the track was recorded outside in the woods next to the studio and the natural sounds are there in the mix.

Musicality is innate, but as a language it’s a blend of what’s within with what is surrounding, with the things we hear that touch us, that which we respect, embrace and feel akin to. Jack’s musicianship is like a well-read individual whose knowledge of vocabulary allows for sophisticated, intricate and nuanced self-expression. It is evident that he knows his stuff and appreciates the greats. Raised to a soundtrack of Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, The Velvet Underground and the Doors amongst others, Jack pays respect to past heroes in very much his own way – but you can hear them here and there. His narrative style at times reminiscent of Cohen, but infinitely more tuneful; hypnotic and charged passages bring The Doors to mind like the title track ‘Copenhagen’ with its intensity and poetry; his laid back commentary and lyrical insouciance is not a million miles from the early days of The Velvet Underground.

There is a particular skill in speaking to the listener and then giving them the musical space to actually hear/digest what it is you are saying; Jack confidently walks this line – lyrically leading you to places he’s been but then leaving you the space to wander off into your own experience.

Like a wolf in sheep’s clothing the vulnerability of Jack’s vocal style might make some miss a reality however – the reality of a man who lives, loves and leaves as he pleases and will not, in the final telling, be made to feel obliged to anyone. Copenhagen is an album that demands and rewards attention and ought to get it as it gives it…

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.