Even here, though, there's an edge of sadness that gives these songs an emotional depth that's missing from too many navel-gazing indie singer-songwriters. You get the sense Jackson has done some living in his time, and taken notes along the way.Jason Warburg - Music reviewer for the Daily Vault
Review of My World
Independent release, 2004
Review by: Jason Warburg
Originally published: April 8, 2005
With so many singer-songwriters going the indie route these days, how do the best ones manage to separate themselves from the pack? What's the secret handshake / melody / lyric?
If you ask me -- and if you don't, this is gonna be a really short review -- it's all about two things: a memorable sound, and a personal touch.
The memorable sound doesn't have to be that original; truth be told, some of today's most successful singer-songwriters are some of the most derivative. Their secret is that they have learned the right lessons from their predecessors -- in particular, how adding unexpected instruments or a distinctive flourish to an arrangement can take a song to the next level.
The personal touch is easier to explain -- the artist has to have something meaningful to say, and the craft to say it in a way that resonates with an audience. Everybody's got issues, but can you talk about yours in a way that makes me either forget about, or better understand, mine?
Scott Jackson -- who is probably wondering by now if I'm ever going to get around to talking about the terrific EP he kindly sent me -- is a Canadian singer-songwriter now based out of beautiful Lake Chelan, Washington. As the title suggests, his disc offers a six-song glimpse into Jackson's world as, in a keening, sometimes fragile voice, he sketches its curves and corners with bracing honesty. Along the way, he separates himself from his peers with, yes, a memorable sound and a personal touch.
The former element shows up in a number of careful nuances applied to the mostly full-band arrangements of these songs (think Jayhawks/Ryan Adams in terms of basic instrumentation and approach). The retro organ tones on "Right Or Wrong," the accordion accents on "Beautiful," the superbly arranged harmony vocals on "Empty Cup," even the brief use of echo to highlight the word "liar" in "Black And White" -- these are the kinds of details that ensure these songs are both felt and received as something special.
The personal touch is evident in line after line of this lovingly crafted set of songs. "There's one thing I know for sure / Disappointment has one cure / To get up stand up / And face another day" sings Jackson in the lilting "Right Or Wrong," morphing a personal observation into a universal truth. In a less uplifting moment, he notes that "You don't need to be a holy man / To hand a cripple his crutch" during the bitter -- yet surprisingly catchy -- lament "Empty Cup."
Perhaps his finest lyric here, though, is "What Are We Waiting For," a song he refers to as "a modern version of the old 'gather ye rosebuds while ye may.'" Indeed, it's a gentle anthem to seizing the moment: "Today is a lifeboat / That we let drift away…The sun might explode / In our beautiful blue / Hope I'm there watching / Right beside you."
The one true anthem on this disc is its energetic opener, "Welcome To My World," a song that revs up a wry, introspective lyric with a rootsy rock and roll drive that's equal parts BoDeans and Tom Petty (with a hint of John Hiatt for seasoning). Even here, though, there's an edge of sadness that gives these songs an emotional depth that's missing from too many navel-gazing indie singer-songwriters. You get the sense Jackson has done some living in his time, and taken notes along the way.
Jackson's background prior to this disc is in hard rock and metal, thought you'd never guess it. My World sounds like the work of a born singer-songwriter, a craftsman with something to say and the skills to make his message resonate. Jackson's Web site indicates this EP portends a full-length to be released sometime this year; I'm looking forward to another winner.
[For more information or to purchase this disc, visit Scott online at www.scottjacksonmusic.com]
© 2005 Jason Warburg and "The Daily Vault." All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of the record label, and is used for informational purposes only.