Luke Jackson had a high standard to live up to with the forthcoming release of his sophomore album, Fumes and Faith, following his fantastic debut, More Than Boys. The singer, who has been making his way around the roots folk circuit for years, championed by Martyn Joseph, has not disappointed.
To an extent, Jackson has shaken off the coming-of-age theme that permeated his debut album, and expanded his intelligently observant lyrics in a natural progression. The album marks a sharp difference in style, but is also similar enough to know without being told that this is still the same singer.
The main great thing about the changes is the new, atmospheric and bold songs which emerge through the course of the record, predominantly being ‘Answers Have Gone’ and ‘Father’s Footsteps’, as well as the glorious opening track, ‘Sister’. Jackson’s voice emerges out of a foggy mist of sound, narrating a man’s appeals to understand the injustice in his life, and when the guitar kicks in, his powerful voice and masterful guitar-playing is compelling. As the track builds in intensity and passion, it becomes impossible to stop listening. Jackson has acknowledged a strong Americana influence over the album which I think is particularly clear in this track, but his voice is absolutely perfect for it.
It’s a shame that ‘Lucy and her Camera’ didn’t make an appearance, but great to see songs that Luke’s been playing live for a while are featured, notably ‘Charlie in the Big World’, ‘Answers Have Gone’ and, of course, the beautiful ‘Out of Time’. The lyrics are so heartfelt that it gets hard to listen at points: ‘My friends they say we’re still young/ We should be raising hell and tearing up the town/ They say it’s not a crime to smile, it’s easier said than done/ To rid our pasts, and think of things to come’. I love the use of piano towards the end and it’s great to see an expansion of instrumentation from the previous album.
A particular stand-out for me is the title track, which it would be impossible not to mention. Setting the tone for a perhaps more sombre album, ‘Fumes and Faith’ is reminiscent of some of the songs from More Than Boys, but comes into its own lyrically. Jackson gives a fierce defence of his hometown in sharp, explorative lines, with an impressive ability for perception.
Overall, the album is impeccable and will definitely be a go-to record for me. Luke begins a tour of the UK on 12th February, and the album is released on 9th February.