Noble Jacks “Stay Awake” (Independent, 2019)

Noble Jacks have been powering their way through the UK indie-folk scene with new album ‘Stay Awake’ which debuted at Number 7 on the Americana music charts.  The release of ‘Stay Awake’ is a huge moment for the band after the experience of selling our Brighton’s Concord 2 venue for their album release party. The band’s individuality comes from the strong lead of the fiddle. They could so easily have been led by a slide guitar or pedal steel, however, the decision to use a fiddle to play that role really gives them the edge over a lot of bands.

On the first listen you know that the bands sound will translate brilliantly live. Noble Jacks state their influences as The Vaccines, Mumford and Sons and The Levellers, you can also hear some The Smiths influences within the guitar lines and guitar tones and the fiddle parts put across a Celtic vibe as well which is stereotypically to be expected from the fiddles tonality.

Stay Awake’ is, for the most part, a pretty happy, feel-good album. It features danceable rhythms on ‘Rely on Love’ which nods in the direction of Johnny Marr’s guitar playing both tone-wise and stylistically, and ‘Morning Light’ which toys with afro best rhythms in the intros and post-chorus’ and features some graciously busy yet melodic bass guitar playing.

Opening track ‘Ten Times’ gets you doing immediately with big sing-along chorus’ which remain with you into the next track. From the first 3 tracks, you instantly get big festival vibes. These vibes continue solidly throughout the album. The two biggest criticisms I have of ‘Stay Awake’ is that it starts to become a little bit samey. The structure of the tracks becomes a little bit predictable, you often know the big chorus is coming and will then be followed by an anthem if guitar part led by either fiddle or harmonica, some versatility would be welcomed greatly as by track 6 you find yourself starting to want to move onto a different album. The only move they make to try and freshen up their sound is on the tracks ‘Stay Awake’ And ‘This Rose’ which in turn, unfortunately, sound very much alike each other. The second criticism I have is that the singers’ voice has the tendency to lack passion in some of the rockier tracks. You almost feel as though he’s just singing, and as weird as that may sound (because yes he is just singing) you’d like to hear the lead vocal sound more soulful and meaningful.

This feel-good release by Noble Jacks, is a nice listen if you want to be uplifted by some Indie-Folk from Brighton, however, starts to wear thin around the half waypoint.

Feel good festival vibes from Brighton
5/10

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