Jawbone - a new London based outfit - have arrived on the scene with their self-titled debut album. Before I delved into the press blurb, my preconception instincts kicked in. Jawbone? Sounds like some sort of 90s metalcore band, I thought. Couldn't have been further from the truth, as it turns out. The musical stylings of this quartet are based around something far easier on the ear. Musical euphony rather than cacophony, if you will. Interestingly, though, a brief search reveals that Jawbone is actually the name of a German thrash/groove act from recent years. And, of course, it's the name of a 2017 British boxing-themed movie, scored by Paul Weller. This bunch, however, lifted their name from a song on The Band's sophomore record.
And that's kind of apt, as Jawbone's songs are all incredibly retro sounding, Their sonic aesthetic has been crafted around an interesting blend of roots music influences with a strong Americana link, so cue nods to rhythm and blues; country; folk; rock, et al. Interestingly, though, despite the overt source of their inspiration, it never sounds drastically derivative. Rather, there are some very nicely composed tunes to be heard here. Tunes that had me tapping my feet throughout.
Impressively, the core instruments (presumably, vocals, too?... some great vocals, by the way) were all tracked live in the studio, although it's stated that "minimal overdubs" and "final touches" were added later on, so the initial recordings have been embellished. Either, way, it's still impressive that the album's all about Jawbone's simultaneous and spontaneous collective performance, rather than tracking individual elements, take after take. And it does sound like these four guys gel together very well indeed, working in this way.
I guess the quality of musicianship comes as no surprise, as these musicians' credentials - namely Paddy Milner on keys/vocals; guitarist/vocalist Marcus Bonfanti; bassist/vocalist Rex Horan; and Evan Jenkins behind the kit - are far reaching. Press sheet boasting lists a rather impressive slate of artists with whom Jawbone members have previously played with: Tom Jones; Eric Clapton; Jack Bruce; Ten Years After; Van Morrison; Robert Plant; Dave Gilmour; Seth Lakeman; Cliff Richard; Ginger Baker; Ronnie Wood; Phil Manzanera; etc, etc. That's some serious name dropping right there! And I had to chuckle when initially reading the names, as don't believe I've ever seen Sir Cliff Richard and Ginger Baker mentioned in the same sentence before. Brilliant! Surely one's the antithesis of the other, both musically and in terms of lifestyle!
All in all, this is a very impressive debut from these Londoners. I will say, though, that the back cover of this promo could've done with a little more astute proof-reading (not sure if the final album has the same error?). The final track states 'The Years Use to Mean So Much'. It's a shame that "final touches" weren't added to the back cover, as well as the recordings!
Review by Mark Holmes
9th November 2018
1) Leave No Traces
2) Get What You Deserve
3) When Your Gun is Loaded
4) Family Man
5) Bet on Yesterday
6) Rolling on the Underground
7) Big Old Smoke
8) Sit Round the Table
9) Two Billion Heartbeats
10) The Years Used to Mean So Much
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"...despite the overt source of their inspiration, it never sounds drastically derivative. Rather, there are some very nicely composed tunes to be heard here."