Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Album Review: 1,555 Syllables That Mean Everything by Jake Martin (by Emma Prew)

Jake Martin is a Brighton-based DIY singer songwriter who plays songs that could loosely be described as ‘acoustic folk punk’. I heard about him and his new EP thanks to an email from Aaahh!!! Real Records via Bandcamp (You know those emails you get because you’ve previously bought something from that label or band but really should turn off because you get loads of them… except sometimes you discover gems like these!). Jake Martin wasn’t a name I was familiar with but I was instantly drawn in by the artwork – clearly the work of Dan Allen – and soon discovered that his sound was right up my street.

1,555 Syllables That Mean Everything is a four track EP and the first of those four songs is called May Your Venue Never Die. This is a song that I think, if you’re reading this blog, you will or at least should wholeheartedly agree with and believe in. May Your Venue Never Die is about not wanting to lose another independent music venue to corporate giants and property developers – something that is happening all too often across the UK. So the subject matter certainly had me hooked but what about the music? The song starts out with some simple acoustic guitar but before too long there’s some violin and banjo thrown in as well – the violin actually has a striking solo part that precedes the chorus. I wasn’t sure if this EP was simply going to be purely solo acoustic guy (yes, I stole that from Gaz Brookfield) so, although that would have been fine by me, I was pleasantly surprised to find more going on. The banjo is probably my favourite of the folkier instruments so the start of the second song, Mountains, immediately had my attention. The gentle melody had me nodding along as I took in the words – by this point I’m well aware of and enjoying the great messages and stories that are delivered in Jake Martin’s songs. Mountains is about how we can quite easily get used to our standard everyday life – working to pay the bills and put food on the table, sitting on the sofa in the evening, etc. but never really ‘living’ – without thinking about what we could actually have or do if we wanted to. We can move mountains if we want to. After the second verse, what was a moderately paced track is injected with a energy in the form of an instrumental breakdown. With this comes an increase in volume and a singalong bridge that really is the highlight of the song – ‘If you’re not pissed off, It’s time to listen.’ Although it did instantly remind me of some very similar lyrics from King’s Lynn ska punk band Faintest Idea – that said, the sentiment is still true whichever voice is singing in.

The first two songs on 1,555 Syllables That Mean Everything tackled some fairly important subjects but did so in an uplifting and positive manor. The third song, To All The Ones I Love, is by contrast a somewhat sad but honest outpouring. To All The Ones I Love is about feeling like you’re, of your own choosing, far away from your friends and people that you care about and wanting to let them know you’re sorry for all the times they have been let down by you. Jake sings of how he’s often only ‘home’ for a short period of time and in that time he is most likely still attached to his guitar. The instruments manage to retain a brightness that contrasts with Jake’s words and mean that the song doesn’t simple become a downhearted and sombre tune. The song’s subject made me properly stop and think about how difficult it must be to have a ‘normal life’ whilst also being a touring DIY musician. I’m so grateful that musicians like Jake do what they do so that people like me can enjoy hearing their songs live – I’m almost certain I couldn’t hack it myself so thank you. Finishing off the EP is a song titled We Sing The Words All Wrong. From that title and the opening chords of the song, I was anticipating that this was going to be a fine closing song – hopefully with a singalong element to it. I was not at all disappointed. The song progresses steadily with the level of passion in Jake’s vocals increasing as well as the volume. I’m often reluctant to mention Frank Turner in reviews of anything vaguely acoustic-based as I feel like that can often be a cop-out comparison to make. However, We Sing The Words All Wrong definitely has a bit of a Ballad Of Me And My Friends old school Turner feel to it and I’m all for that (especially when I’m not so fussed about Mr Turner anymore). The bridge says it all – ‘Won’t you sing from your heart, Or never sing again.’ Oh and the whole song is definitely one big singalong, complete with whoa-ohs. Perfect punk rock, acoustic or otherwise.

1,555 Syllables That Mean Everything is available to stream and download on the Aaahh!!! Real Records Bandcamp page now and you can also find Jake Martin on Facebook.

This review was written by Emma Prew.

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