7 06 2016


“4:34 I’m a new romantic soul.”


When I was at university I managed to pass off going to gigs all the time and skipping lectures as part of my degree. Sure having a degree in Music Journalism & Broadcasting can give you a passion for words and music, but it gives you a great free pass to not getting up for a 9am lecture when you’ve been to a gig the night before. Whilst at university, I struggled a fair bit with homesickness. I didn’t understand because I really hated where I lived. There was nothing for me on the Isle of Man, so I left for 3 years to do a course that would in some way, help me do something with my life. I found a few bands to cling on from 2006 to 2009 whilst there. One band in particular that got me through bouts of homesickness and general “I can’t cope” feelings were The Long Blondes. Someone To Drive You Home became a soundtrack to every single day. Certain songs on certain days were played more often than others. I never saw them live, but I did meet all of them bar Kate at a signing at Virgin Megastore in Manchester. I sat behind Screech on the train down, and he recognised me when he signed my CD. Never once did I think the band would split, and I stand by them splitting up to hurt more than a break-up. I have my reasons for this way of thinking, but music is my everything. Fast forward a few years, and I finally get to see Kate play her debut record, British Road Movies.

Out of the 3 dates they played last week, I made two of them. If I had the funds I would have gone to all 3. You don’t grow out of wanting to see bands/singers you really love at any given opportunity. If you’ve heard British Road Movies you’ll be aware of the love of motorways and service stations that Kate has in the songs. For me, that was a huge part of my love for The Long Blondes. I grew up where there were no motorways or service stations-then all of a sudden, I was surrounded by them. I’m that sad I actually do have a Top 3 service stations list. I’m always open to visiting more.

Both shows showed that not only does Kate have the most incredible voice, but her band are nothing short of amazing. Her guitarist, Reuben, plays with this insane fury that reminds me exactly of Bernard Butler mixed with Johnny Thunders. In short, he basically leaves you wishing you could play guitar like him. He thrashes it about in such a gorgeous fashion. Her drummer, Shannon,  thumps the hell out of the intro to Metropolis (second song in the set) right after the quiet tones of set opener, Velvet Sofa From Number 26. The set starts quietly, and this dramatic and intense pause occurs. This is greeted with the most rowdy drum intro I’ve heard in a long, long time. You can’t help but stand to attention but yell along “This city pulls me to pieces.”

On a personal level, Stranded and 16 Years are the songs that really do it for me. When I saw her show on Friday, I’ll admit that me and my best pal did have our share of a few drinks and enabled me to sing a long thus ruining my voice even more so (I’ve been poorly, but I’m getting better now) but her show on Sunday, I stood at the front and took it all in. I was really lucky because I went to both shows with two people I absolutely adore, and sometimes you just need someone with you who “gets” it. I can’t really explain what it is about Stranded and 16 Years that mean a lot. I guess it is certain lines in the songs that mean a lot. From Stranded I’d take “In another dimension, you’re here with me” and from 16 Year I’d probably take either “You were my release” or perhaps “I could have helped if you asked me to.” Her lyrics are gentle, thoughtful and so easy to connect with. I think this is why I’ve always held her as highly as Morrissey in my mind. I’m massively into lyrics, and people like Kate justify this love of words.

Aside from songs off British Road Movies, the band play 2 new songs- The Westerlies and Future City. Both are exceptional, and real stand out moments in the set. I’m pretty sure the recorded versions of these will be brilliant.

Kate has this wonderful presence about her stage, and I was fully expecting to witness a difference between London and Sheffield crowds- there truly wasn’t. She doesn’t draw in crowds of obnoxiously drunk louts who yell obscenities at the end of every song or during any silent moments. Both crowds were there because quite simply, we just bloody well love her. I always think live shows should take you some place else compared to where the actual record takes you. I think it’s because you can actually see the songs coming alive in front of you, and certain parts of songs become more clearer and you just go off some place else. It’s a sacred feeling, and one that was very much alive at her London and Sheffield shows.

And you know, they do say to never meet your heroes but after her show in London my friend pretty much dragged me/shoved me in the direction of Kate. And with a hug, I managed to blurt out what I wanted to say to her. Words get you through and the songs become, and save your life.

KATE JACKSON-British Road Movies.

13 05 2016


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



KATE JACKSON-Metropolis.

29 02 2016



“This is our song.”

If like me, you’re a sentimental fool who finds it hard to let go of bands that end up splitting up then you’re probably dubious of what happens to the band members. Radio silence is deafening especially when you’re left knowing that the band members are great and a world without them making music is just utterly pointless. The Long Blondes were my ultimate band when I was at uni. I adapted to a new life easier than I would have if it wasn’t for them, I got over having my heart metaphorically broken, I played their 2 records religiously. I made trips to the North of England with Someone To Drive You Home on a loop. I’d meet my mum in Yorkshire playing the songs. In my ears, on my mind. The words firmly etched upon my heart. The band split, but I clung onto what the band meant to me. Heaven Help The New Girl to Guilt- the words just always seemed relevant. Time passes, and you grow up as best as you can.

I am so so happy to FINALLY write about Kate Jackson’s new song Metropolis. I listened to it at lunchtime at work today and all I’ve done since is, seemingly, wait to get home so I can rant about how marvelous this song is. The song features Bernard Butler. Jackson and Butler. My generation’s Morrissey and Marr. Bernard is probably one of the best guitarists this country has ever produced. Him and Brett had me lusting after Suede. Him and McAlmont made the greatest “F-You” of all time. I learnt the words to Yes immediately aged 9 years old- I should have been trying to get my head around mental arithmetic in school. I didn’t care for numbers then, and I don’t care for them now. Give me lyrics. Give me the lyrics that will make me feel less alone. Give me the lyrics that say what I’ve yet to have the guts to say. Give me words in all their power, pain and passion. Give me the lyrics of Kate Jackson and the astounding riffs of Bernard Butler.

Everything about Metropolis sums up what I missed about hearing Kate Jackson’s voice. She’s still got the captivating and delicate tone. Her clear pronunciation of words makes you feel as if you’re about to be taken some place higher than you’ve been before. For me this is a massive contender for song of the year. It’s the best song I’ve heard so far, and I’m pretty sure I’ll have it on repeat still come November as I turn 30 wondering what the hell I’ve done- in general. For me, there’s one line in the song that is just so heartbreakingly honest and a line I can relate to. A line I can associate with any place I have ever lived. “This city pulls me to pieces.” My God. A line so simple but so powerful. You don’t need to make something pretentious in order for it to be relatable and vital. I’ve made my own impressions of the song, I’ve made my own meaning up. It’ll be different to the next person, and that’s what I love about this song and music in general. The line starts to ring through in the last verse, then carries on. The more you hear it, coupled with Bernard’s guitar, makes it one of the most glorious and stunning moments in music of the year.

As my favourite lyric from the song echoes in my head, I start thinking about the things I wish to and wish not to associate the song with. The sheer beauty and honesty in this song can transport you to the places you thought you were afraid of, but when you get there it really isn’t so bad. I’ve said it many times, but there are just some bands/singers that make me just want to write about music constantly. This song is easily one of them.

I remember an old interview of The Long Blondes and Kate mentioning her fondness of service stations. I think I annoy anyone I’m in a car with because I ALWAYS want to stop at service stations. They are fascinating places, and I don’t get tired of watching people pass through. The Long Blondes, and now Kate remind me of just going somewhere. The title of Kate’s debut record is British Road Movies and I can sense just by the title and Metropolis that this is going to be a record that you drive to (in my case, sit in the passenger seat or get the train) and stop off at service stations making up stories in your head about the people you see. Watching the couples fight because they’ve got lost, eyeing up people trying to work out what they want from Greggs, people napping in their cars. I’m possibly reading too much into it but it’s alright.

It’s been announced that Kate Jackson (and The Wrong Moves) will be playing The Great Escape Festival (19th May)this year and a free show at Rough Trade on 20th May which is the release date of the debut record. Having Kate back and making music is like putting on your favourite piece of clothing and feeling like you can take on the world. Not many things in the world are perfect. Everybody has their own idea of perfection, for me perfection is when a singer you adore comes back after years and puts a single out on an otherwise dull Monday afternoon.

British Road Movies is released 20th May via Hoo Ha Records.