JESSICAS BROTHER – ” Humdinger “

Posted: May 19, 2018 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
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Jessica’s Brother is the eponymous debut album from London trio Jessica’s Brother, comprised of songwriter Tom Charleston, Jonny Helm (drums, also of The Wave Pictures) and Charlie Higgs (bass, previously of Ramshackle Union Band). Channelling the spirit of the Brothers Grimm to create an otherworldly atmosphere, they weave their motley influences together making a rich and eclectic vision, with nods to Silver Jews, Jason Molina, Nick Cave, Richard Thompson and Neil Young. There are themes of joy, anger and silliness in a carefully crafted world with a colourful cast of characters.
The trio formed in October 2016. Jonny and Charlie worked together in a framing business and had often talked about collaborating in a band together. Fate intervened when Jonny’s girlfriend Jessica introduced him to her brother Tom, and they found a songwriter in waiting. The trio clicked immediately and just nine months later they recorded the album with Laurie Sherman at The Booze Cube in Stoke Newington, with input from Darren Hayman. A few other friends joined them in the studio, including Dan Mayfield (Enderby’s Room), who added a dose of Bad Seeds/Dirty Three vibes on the violin and Paul Rains (Allo Darlin’/Tigercats) lent a hint of country twang on guitar and slide guitar.

With Jessica’s Brother, we see Tom Charleston’s songwriting blossoming in to a tour de force. Influenced more by poets than other musicians, he cites John Ashbery, T.S. Eliot and Philip Larkin as inspirations. He is drawn to how they can be irreverent, unassuming and playful, as he explains; “I suppose I wanted to offer something lyrically engaging and hopefully different.” His modestly lofty ambitions have paid off, with ten startling individual vignettes telling their own stories from a variety of narrator’s points of view.

“Humdinger” is perhaps the one song on the album where the narrator is at ease with himself and the world. Though there are moments where this tranquility is nudged by outside tremors, so we know this moment is ephemeral. If you’re going to call a track Humdinger, it had better be, well, a humdinger, and thankfully these chaps know what they’re doing. Probably their most languid and sun-drenched moment to date, Humdinger, is a wonderful fusion of serenity and the quiet feeling that it can’t possibly last, as Tom explains it is, “the one song on the album where the narrator is at ease with himself and the world. Though there are moments where this tranquillity is nudged by outside tremors, so we know this moment is ephemeral.” Musically, it never gets above a gentle shuffle, yet in the easy languid bass, meandering guitars and steady, perfectly judged drums, there’s more than enough to hold the listener’s attention. This laid-back style also allows Tom’s lyrics to shine, as his vocal, sometimes accompanied by a female vocal (as far as we know unidentified), sing out, “lo humdinger, I’m just a lazy singer with my mind in two.” Always poetic, always musically intriguing; sure it’s unlikely to make much of a fuss, but make no mistake, Jessica’s Brother’s debut album might just be one of 2018’s most exciting .

Weaving a variety of influences from jangly indie-rock to gothic country and contemplative psych folk, Jessica’s Brother create the sound of a band coming together and getting caught up in the rush of starting new and enjoyable. The instruments clamber over each other in a small room, with Helm’s distinctive drumming counterbalances the gothic guitar thrums and wailing violin.

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Released by: Fika Recordings, Release date: 4th May 2018
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