Kate Jackson - British Road Movies - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Kate Jackson - British Road Movies

by Steve Ricciutti Rating:10 Release Date:2016-05-20

Kate Jackson, formerly of The Long Blondes and now fronting her own outfit (Kate Jackson & the Wrong Moves), has released her first solo offering and first bit of music after a six-year hiatus during which she worked on her painting (the cover is an example of her haunting and stark, architecturally-themed work). I imagine all of us wish we could take half-a-dozen years off and come back in such impressive fashion.

Jackson has remarked in interviews that the songs on British Road Movies were written to celebrate the tales within the journey that one usually assigns to the broadness of America but rarely to England. Additionally, the songs were created with a cinematic perspective, “(M)ovie titles with lyrical story-boards…” and that’s exactly how many come across. 'The End of Reason' is a perfect example of the kind of sweeping, evocative songs she set out to write, but there are plenty on this magnificent disc.

There are some straight ahead Britpop numbers like “Metropolis,” with Jackson relentlessly singing “this city pulls me to pieces.” It's a strong song that could be both an ideal movie montage song as well as something that makes radio playlists. “Stranded” has a new wave feel with choppy guitars keeping the melody moving rapidly along, horn accents, a rock-steady beat, and a lively chorus that defies the listener to not hit the “repeat” icon. Ditto for “The Atlantic,” with sing-a-long backing vocals and an air of soaring splendor.

“Wonder Feeling” is a song that exudes the joy of wanderlust and all of its amazing possibilities. With a sweet whammy-barred guitar solo and a chorus you’re definitely going to be singing all day (“Wonder feeling take me to the motorway. Can’t find a reason to go into work today. Wonder feeling take me to the motorway. Found my lover and now we’re going to run away”), this is my favorite number from an album full of great songs.

She gets introspective on some numbers, particularly on the reminiscence of a long-lost friendship (“16 Years”) wherein she starts off narrating before she lightly sings in a bittersweet angelic voice. It hits her intended goal square in the center, as this is a story within a song and a beautiful one at that. The album concludes with back-to-back somber numbers, neither or which I object to, but it’s perhaps a bit too long of a coda. Regardless, it’s my only negative comment about a near-perfect album.

Brimming with strong, succinct, and lushly crafted songs, “British Road Movies” is easily one of my favorite new albums from this year, and it’s amazing that this is her first solo album. Written and produced by ex-Suede guitarist Bernard Butler, this brilliant album has me wanting to go into her back catalogs from The Long Blondes to see how such a talented artist has been off my radar all this time. Highly recommended! 

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