Jake Morley - Many Fish To Fry
Posted by Kuang on Wed, 28 Mar 2012.
One of my first experiences of Jake Morley came in the form of an extremely critical piece in the Guardian suggesting he was nothing more than a twee Sheeran-a-like bandwagon jumper with nothing to say. After reading his blog and watching a couple of his videos I decided that I'd never read such nonsense and vowed to listen to his debut album 'Many Fish To Fry' as soon as possible.
Much has been made of Jake's ability to play an acoustic guitar percussively across his lap, drawing out rhythms as well as melodies, but to suggest that's all he can do is a major oversight. Most of the eleven tracks do revolve around the acoustic guitar, but are aided by a brilliantly subtle and sharp backing band whose presence is always judged to perfection. When Jake does fly solo, he creates a warm and gentle vibe even through darker subject matter; 'This City' is one such track, reflecting on the saddening emotional distance created by physical closeness to strangers but still communicating the sense of quiet hope for something better. 'Pondering On A Scenario In Which I Am The Hero' playfully kicks around daydreams and 'what-ifs' in a way that we all do but will rarely admit.
The other end of the emotional spectrum is occupied by bouncy gems like 'Feet Don't Fail Me Now' and the infectious bluesy stomp of 'Freddie Laid The Smackdown' - a darkly determined tale of the perils of being a stranger in a new school. One of the highlights pops up just before the end with the title track, a disarming and whimsical collection of tales about living in order to decide what life really means to you. It's overwhelmingly sweet and hopeful, and raises a genuine smile every time.
Many Fish To Fry feels like a conversation with someone new who you just know you're going to get on with; the response to the part where you say 'so, tell me a bit about yourself'. Jake has a wonderfully candid and straightforward way of illustrating the ins and outs of everyday life - he won't fall back on clever wordplay or smug metaphors when a simple answer will do, and it's refreshing. His character comes across with clarity and honesty even though the tracks are diverse and travel vastly differing emotional tangents. It feels like you're privy to someone's innermost thoughts and that's a connection that's hard to fake if you're not fully behind it.
The icing on this deluxe edition of the album comes in the form of a DVD that reinforces your impressions of Jake and his music in fine form. You get a track by track interview where he discusses the thoughts behind each song, a selection of videos and a brilliant live concert with the whole band that I guarantee will be one of the most uplifting performances you'll see. You also get to explore what's underneath Jake's kitchen table, but I'll leave you to discover that one for yourself.
Many Fish To Fry is a brilliant debut, and especially worth having if you're sick of glossy pop and want something a bit more human and thoughtful.
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