There are some things in life that cause emotional trauma to your heart and you question if you can ever move on. Even though I am probably far too sensitive, I can only recall a couple of times where I’ve felt “eternal sadness.” I was devastated when The Long Blondes split up. Prior to this, I saw them at a signing at Virgin Megastore in Manchester where all but Kate were there. Wounded. We move on. Or try. My latest bout of “eternal sadness” hit me yesterday. I changed the stylus on my record player only to discover- it’s actually fully broken. It’s beyond repair, much like my heart. Obviously. I’m currently trying to find a new one. Last night, all I wanted to do was lay down and listen to some Nick Cave. It didn’t happen. And now we are here. A whole week before a record comes out that I’ve been bursting to write about. A record that makes you forget certain heartaches but reminds you of some people. Just because something ends doesn’t mean something great can’t start, and that’s how I feel towards Kate Jackson’s debut record, British Road Movies.
The record starts with The End Of Reason. A 5 minute and 50 second ethereal gem of a song. The song feels like you’re on the run. I think what’s always made me connect with Kate’s lyrics is her open love for service stations and motorways. I grew up without these two things (the Isle of Man has NOTHING!) and the feeling I get when I see vast amount of space whilst in a confined space makes me feel at ease. People watching in service stations is always time well spent. The End Of Reason makes me wish I could drive so I could get in a car right now and drive. I don’t care where to, but just far. Her vocals on this song are really captivating and it’s like she’s echoing everything that’s dragging you down, so you get up and out of whatever hell you’ve fallen into.
Next up we gently glide into Homeward Bound. Where the record opener made us feel like we were leaving, Homeward Bounds makes you feel like you’ve arrived to wherever you were supposed to be. The air of nostalgia that fills this record is gorgeous. In some aspects this feeling can be a drag, but Kate does it in a way that makes you feel as if you’re going through it and she’s telling you’re story. Her way with words is on a par (for me) with the likes of Morrissey. So very true to life, so very honest but she doesn’t need to be pretentious in order for you to feel it.
Metropolis is in my top 3 songs of the year. The lyrics are so easy to relate to. I remember hearing it a few months ago, and what stuck with me is the line “This city pulls me to pieces.” I’ve felt that way towards everywhere I lived, and I think it’s why I feel that settling in one place fills me with dread and nausea. If there was a way of finding out how many times this song has been played, I’m probably responsible for most of it. I love how the drums sound like a cross between Primal Scream’s Rocks Off and McAlmont & Butler’s Yes. That signature Bernard Butler sound makes its way subtly throughout the record and I can’t think of anyone else better for Kate to work with on this record.
Wonder Feeling is another one of my favourites. Like most songs on the record, this one makes you feel like you’re on the road. All of the songs feel like short films. Think Andy Warhol on the run, and maybe you’ll get what I mean. This is the song you play on a Monday before work to build yourself up for leaving the house to. Personally, I love my job but I just hate having to get up early. I like being asleep. I’m sure there are going to be some who will try slide in comparisons to The Long Blondes wherever they can, but seriously just listen to the record as if you know nothing about Kate and you’ll get the record.
If you’re looking to have your heart broken, then 16 Years is the one that’s going to ruin you. I love the sad songs because the honesty is just so easy to relate to. Lyrics are a MASSIVE thing for me, and lyrically this is the best on the record. “You were my release” is such a vulnerable line, and you can take it however you want. It’s just so beautiful and it keeps me coming back to the song. I love the sense of loss and wonder on this song, and from about 2:50 it gets really really sad. Just listen to the words.
Following on with the sadness is Lie To Me. The abandonment you feel when someone turns away can be really overwhelming at times, and when a person just disappears it’s even worse. You would rather they lie to you. The way Kate sings this song doesn’t make her sound desperate or needy. It makes her seem sure of how she feels, and unafraid of being so brutally honest. Songs like this can go either way, and fortunately Kate does it in a way that makes you realise you can tough it out. In the end that’s all you can do, right? It almost sounds like it could be on a Bond film soundtrack. I’d take truth over a lie, but Kate makes it so appealing.
Stranded is most definitely one of my favourites for sure. Sometimes you see something or someone, and you’re just overwhelmed with a feeling. It takes you over and although things are around you- you feel totally alone. A familiar face can usually be the cause of this. Again this is another song on the record that shows how fearless Kate is with her words. If only more of us, including myself were this brave. Where some of the other songs feel like going home, this one feels like leaving everything. I love the line, “In another dimension, you’re here with me.” Speaks for itself really.
All of the songs on the record feel like being in a car, but The Atlantic feels like a bolder step in escaping- by plane. Going far, far away. I love the slight hint of 60s Girl Groups to it. There’s something about this song that shows us just how powerful and how diverse her vocals are. It is definitely a reminder as to why I love the music she makes. This is the kind of song you’d want to hear in a workingmens’ club in the North. You can imagine people supping on their pints whilst nodding in time to the beat. Everyone plotting their escape via going home just after closing time.
Last Of The Dreamers has a stunning air of sadness about it. It feels like you’re listening to someone tell their life story to themselves whilst looking in a mirror at the end of the night where certain feelings are heightened. The kind of feelings you don’t really speak about until you’re alone. It’s got a sadness to it that makes you hear the openess in the lyrics so so clearly. “Yves Saint Laurent scented photographs.” This makes me think of a socialite who has come home from a night out, alone. With their thoughts. When those kind of parties ends, so do the friendships.
The record ends on Velvet Sofa From No.26. When I first played the record, I really thought that the above song should have closed the record, but there’s something about Velvet Sofa From No.26 that just sounds so soothing and eases you into the end but also builds you up to hit play all over again. The song is heavy with reminiscence and wonder of another, and we all get that. The former lover making the person know what they didn’t do. What they should have done. It sounds like a lullaby, but when you listen to the words something really hits you in the gut. . That’s the record all over. The lyrics are perfect. The songs are perfect.
Everything about British Road Movies will make you want to take a road trip into the unknown. You’ll get sentimental over certain songs. You’ll go back in time, but you’ll also see a way to carry on. It is just a beautiful and flawless record. The production is nothing short of perfect. Kate and Bernard are a musical dream team, that’s for sure. It’s an elegant record from start to finish, and you won’t want it to ever end. You connect with the heartbreak and the desire to be on a motorway. Fill up the tank and drive.
British Road Movies is FINALLY out next Friday (20th May) via Hoo Ha Record. Check Kate’s site for details about tour dates: http://www.katejackson.co.uk