Monday, 5 August 2013
New Artist Alert: Jake Meeking - Walking on my Own
Fresh out of the Bath music scene is Jake Meeking and his debut EP Walking on my Own. Heavily influenced with jazz and blues undertones, you'll find all manner of artists influentially nestled among this wonderfully produced 4-track offering, which Meeking is pushing heavily around the Somerset area following performances at Moles Club in Bath, The Godney Gathering in Glastonbury and some radio airtime on Glastonbury FM.
The EP begins confidently with its title track, a mid-tempo jazz-inspired song in 6/8 featuring delicate lead vocals and a lazy lead-guitar line which has a great feel as it pushes against the straighter, more minimal drum track. The chorus appears unannounced, making a strong feature of the lead vocals as it forces the listener to really pick out the well-considered lyrics. Verse two features a slight embellishment, cautiously adding to the thin texture with sultry-sounding chords on the piano at the start of every bar before the intensity builds, but only slightly, before relaxing into the second chorus. It feels like a backwards way of structuring a song but it's soon clear as the chorus itself steadily progresses, with the whole track behind it, always building towards the rather short instrumental section. On my first listen, I'm willing it to go on and on, the texture thickening as the guitar steps into the spotlight showcasing a wailing solo but in its simplicity is where its effectiveness lies; the solo does come but is based around just two notes and a whole lot of sustain. Musos and fair-weather listeners alike will surely have their appetites whetted as Meeking cleverly leaves us wanting more but without compromising the genre nor laying out all his cards on the table in the very first track. As the music fades away, it's clear we're experiencing something quite fresh and exciting.
Keep My Eyes Open begins minimally with just vocals and guitar, leaving the listener guessing as to the feel and time-signature of the song which is quickly established with the introduction of the rhythm section, authentically featuring an upright bass. The track has a more popular-blues feel to it, as the chorus opens up slightly on the ride cymbal and with a little more intensity in the vocals and a new arpeggiated guitar part lying a little deeper in the mix. The second verse enters without introduction, maintaining the feel and up-tempo nature of the song, before getting quickly to a double helping of the chorus. There's a momentary lapse as the listener isn't allowed to get too comfortable; the bare bones of the track feature in this middle-8 section whilst it builds, showcasing a little embellishment on both the bass and electric guitar as they stray away from their home chords in search of a little more flamboyancy. The climax is lead by the drums quite suddenly, as the intensity is revamped for an extended musical section, but only for four bars, before the vocals take the reigns atop the much thicker chorus section. As we go around the chorus for a final time, some dual-layered harmonies in the vocals feature somewhere in the back of the mix, showcasing Meeking's top register for the first time and really displaying what he can do. As the track fades away, the backing vocals remain a strong and constant force, standing their ground against each dying ounce of the track and bullishly making their way to the centre of the mix as the music finally leaves the listener with a rather unnerving finale.
Breaking Out picks up where Keep My Eyes Open left off before settling into a 6/8 groove with a real Jeff Buckley-feel to the music. Picky acoustic guitar surrounds the delicate lead vocals, before the drums bring the song in and out with a mixture of the conventional and slightly less-so, playing on the rims of the drums at times. The chorus feels like the darkest on the EP, driving forcefully but lazily, and there's a lot going on behind the scenes if you really listen out for it. Things settle for the second verse as we return to the picky guitar and then the second chorus in time and it's here that I think the production of the EP is to be truly appreciated. It's clear a lot of time and consideration has gone into the post-production of the CD which really pays off for the listener. Meeking dips into his top register again, calling an end to the extended second chorus, as the track finishes going around the chorus progression but with a rhythmic twist at the end.
Closing the EP is At Its Best, the real gem in the crown for me, and a masterpiece deservedly left running around the listeners' minds long after the CD has finished spinning. It begins simply with a picky acoustic guitar part and vocals, relying on this simplicity as the song's foundation to carry it through the track. It changes gear without notice, a subtle chord change to mark a new section, and that's all it needs. Verse two differs only in the addition of the single chords on the downbeat of each bar, and it's here the listener first gets the feel the track is effectively a gradual crescendo to its destination, progressively building since the first note was struck and heading towards the end. More guitar tracks appear as the vocals ease off in the latter half of the song, allowing the music to do the talking; just as the music needs somewhere to go, it does, and ends. The track, and indeed the EP, has been building up to this pinnacle finale, this climatic ending, and it was there under our noses all along. I could wax lyrical about the piece but feel it speaks for itself and truly needs to be heard, or experienced, to be appreciated. A real defining moment, and highlight, of the EP.
Walking On My Own is available to stream, and purchase, from Jake Meeking's Bandcamp page and is also available for sale on iTunes. Be sure to catch up with him on Facebook where you can get the latest on where Jake is performing next. Help support our independent artists and get yourself a copy today, you won't regret it.