First off, perhaps I should say ‘reintroducing’ when I talk about Kate Jackson, who may well be familiar to indie fans of ten or so years ago. Jackson, who hails from Suffolk was briefly a darling of the indie scene in the mid 2000’s with her Sheffield formed band The Long Blondes. Named as ‘Britain’s best unsigned band’ in 2006 by The Guardian, and winners of the NME’s Philip Hall Radar Award, The Long Blondes signed to Rough Trade and released two critically acclaimed albums in 2006’s ‘Someone To Drive You Home’ and 2008’s ‘Couples’. Then guitarist and principal songwriter Dorian Cox suffered a stroke, and the band amicably agreed to split.
Jackson started to sketch out songs with Bernard Butler after meeting him at an after show party in Kings Cross before moving to Rome, where she lived for four years on and off and worked on her other interest as a visual artist. Her painting has developed since she moved back to her native East Anglia, but the musical bug rarely releases its grip once it has bitten you, and Jackson hooked back up with Butler to develop the songs they had begun some years before on her return to the UK in 2014. And the result is her new album ‘British Road Movies’ and its lead single ‘The End Of Reason’. The album aims at a cinematic feel to the music, tapping into Butler’s ambitious production alongside his recognisable guitar and Jackson’s vocal excellence. ‘The End Of Reason’ is a perfect introduction to this album, with its electro back beat and widescreen feel. “Forget, no regrets… your children will not be proud of you” – the lyrics hit the mark too. Jackson’s aim is that every track on the album could be a movie theme – we’ll take a listen in a few days and see if she and Butler have achieved that lofty aim. It’s good to have her back.
It’s very good to introduce Hannah Lou Clark as well. She will I suspect be a lot less familiar, although fans of acts as diverse as Gaz Coombes and Lonely The Brave will have seen her supporting them earlier this year. Clark actually set out as FOE, a guitar thrashy slightly off the wall act that reminded some reviewers of a PJ Harvey parody, but over the last two or three years she has dropped the noise, taken hold of her real musical self and switched to what feels like a mature, introspective but still candid style of music. It’s quiet in places but fascinating too – good enough to hook a crowd of Lonely The Brave fans, which is a pretty impressive effort. Debut EP ‘Silent Type’ appeared in late 2014 and picked up considerable interest, and Clark has now followed this up with ‘It’s Your Love’. The EP’s title track is an outwardly bouncy, poppy song, but lurking behind it is the stunningly brilliant ‘Cowboy Joe’, currently making rapid headway up the Heatseekers Chart. This is all low-fi guitars and laid back, sensuous vocals as Clark tells of her love – “When you look in my direction, angels appear in the ceiling”. This man has clearly captivated her, and as we reach the closing lyric “I feel comfort when I think of you, your hand on my heart”, you realise just what a sexy song this is. It’s superb stuff from an artist with a huge future.
Finally the fresh faced newcomer to the scene is 20 year old Sara Hartman, a native of Sag Harbor in the Hamptons. A year or so ago Hartman jumped on a plane to Berlin to pursue her dream of making music. Inspired by the musical and artistic education she received from her parents (her mum creates visual art) Hartman has worked out a blend of pop with punch and heart which is instantly appealing. She has certainly attracted attention – she supported no less than Ellie Goulding on her recent European tour, and has played support in the States for X Ambassadors before embarking on her own solo headlining tour in Europe (oddly missing out the UK, but there’s plenty of time for that). ‘Monster Lead Me Home’ was her first major release, but she has now hit a real sweet spot with ‘Satellite’, her debut Dave’s Singles Chart hit. It’s breezy, and hook filled, with a bit of a catch in the chorus. “I can love you if you let me… but love, you’ve got to let me’ goes the lyrical refrain. Do you know what I like best about Hartman? Her voice is something else – it’s as if she’s not singing the song but confiding her deepest thoughts to us. It makes the whole song so much more personal and engaging. She has got huge potential if she can keep that little bit of an twist to her music. I do hope she won’t slip into the same trap that Ellie Goulding fell into – Goulding’s intially interesting, indie styling petered out very early and left us with the rather dull, prosaic artist we see today. My suspicion is that Hartman has rather more to her than that.