16 seconds was all it took, and Jade Jackson had me hooked. 16 seconds of opening track ‘Aden’, from her debut album ‘Gilded’. She sings, “I grew up my father’s daughter, he said don’t take no shit from no-one, you’ll never see me cry…”. Where do I sign? Take my money, and while you’re at it, take a kidney! Hell, I’ve got two anyway. The rise of The White Buffalo in the UK, and the introduction of the ‘Outlaw Country Stage’ at Ramblin’ Man Fair, has given the genre certain validation. Characters that we can all identify with, blood soaked tales of desperation, told by artists with an everyman quality. American singer/songwriter Jade Jackson is one such artist that isn’t just bubbling under, she’s frothing over. With Mike Ness at her side as a mentor (and the album’s producer), Jackson is beginning to make people sit up and take notice of her incredible voice and passionate songs. Yeah, that’s Mike Ness of punk icons Social Distortion.
Back to opening track ‘Aden’… twanging guitar intro, the opening lines copied above, and a vocal performance from a young artist that proves that if you’re good enough then you’re old enough. Even if you were unaware of the Mike Ness connection, you would still pick up on the punk edge to her vocals. Coming armed with a varied background of influences, Jade Jackson commands immediate attention, as her world-weary vocals come oozing out of the speakers. Vocals that instantly snare the listener, lyrics that capture the imagination and will have different meanings for different people. ‘Back When’ continues with the epic storytelling over a stunning, simplistic drum beat. The difference between the UK and America, when it comes to singer/songwriters, is immense. Whereas the UK has the market cornered for whiny voiced, bland as hell songsmiths, America is the breeding ground for counterparts with an actual grasp of real life. Perhaps it’s the vast open spaces, the isolation, and the state of mind that comes with said isolation, but when I want a taste of real life, I turn my attention overseas. ‘Bridges’ and ‘Finish Line’ would be entirely different songs had Jackson hailed from London instead of small town California. A cookie cutter jangly jangly strumming guitar would have been the first thing the producer added. Radio One loves their cookie cutter jangly jangly guitar, that’s for sure.
The mid album pairing of ‘Troubled End’ and ‘Good Time Gone’ raise the album to another level with some warm and beautiful riffs. ‘Troubled End’, in particular, should have the record label phoning Quentin Tarantino to tell the big chinned wonder that they have his next soundtrack sorted. The softer moments of ‘Salt To Sugar’, and the gorgeous title track, are some of the highlights on an album of many. Raw and melancholic, it’s storytelling at it’s finest. The guitar sound on the title track is stunning, nothing flash or overpowering, but very effective. Front runner for favourite track at the moment is ‘Motorcycle’, a shimmering few moments where Jackson lets the boy down not-so-gently with the line “Ah, understand, boy, it’s been fun, but my motorcycle only seats one”.
‘Gilded’ is a veritable tour de force of raw, emotional real life. An album for many moods that impresses more with each listen. Available May 19th on Anti Records, pre-order the vinyl here . Jade Jackson hits the road in July with Social Distortion, all dates here.
Review: Dave Stott