“Heaven doesn’t want me, and the Devil doesn’t know who I am!” More than the hookline for “Leave No Traces”, the quite wonderful first song on the debut album from Jawbone.
Rather it speaks to the ordinary, those, who as Marge so eloquently put it on The Simpson’s once, “dream of being in the audience of a Broadway show” rather than being in the damn thing itself.
Also, it might, if I could be so bold as to say it, be a metaphor for the band members themselves. Stuck between two stools, maybe, never quite belonging. Until now, that is.
Jawbone, you see is a supergroup. Of sorts. The two main guys Paddy Milner, and Marcus Bonafanti have had their successes. Milner as a singer/songwriter, Bonafanti as a solo artist, and also as part of the should have been huge St Jude (who also featured Lynne Jackaman) and as if to emphasise the wealth of experience here, between them the quartet (Rex Horan on bass and Evan Jenkins on drums forming a brilliant rhythm section) have played with a host of artists. And not just any old groups either. Tom Jones, Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, Ten Years After, Van Morrison Robert Plant, Dave Gilmour, Seth Lakeman, Cliff Richard, Ginger Baker, Ronnie Wood? That do you?
So, debut or not, lets shelve any idea that this is a hesitant newborn blinking into the light, taking baby steps. Instead, Jawbone have constructed a record that is as confident and classy as any you can think of right now.
There is a wonderfully laid-back feel to much of it too. A Tom Waits-y horn section greets the aforementioned “…Traces” and a feature of it establishes a pattern throughout the rest as Milner and Bonafanti share vocals.
The Small Faces and The Stones appear to have been starting points, but the harmonies and organ work on “Get What You Deserve” – an acerbic put down of a former colleague – are as good as it gets, and that’s before the bluesy stomp of the chorus hits for all it is worth.
A rough-hewn southern rock feel – think The Allman Brothers at the end of the night – ushers in “When Your Gun Is Loaded” and all those who can’t stop shooting themselves in the foot (not me, obviously….) might just have found an anthem here.
The American flavoured theme continues in “Family Man” – which sounds like the soundtrack to a Western as envisioned by Urban Voodoo Machine, while there are huge intentions to the piano-laden “Bet On Yesterday” that suggests massive future ambitions for the band.
One of the best things about the record is like, early Marillion say, they take the everyday and make it special. Double entendre’s abound on “Rolling On The Underground”, but it is wonderful fun. Plus you can say what you like about the slide guitar on “Big Old Smoke” and where it – and the band members – originated, but this is a band that is totally sure that it belongs in London, and fans of The Black Crowes might do well to check this one out.
Jawbone is also a band and an album that has much warmth about it and them. Maybe it is to do with their chemistry, or the fact they just enjoy this band more than some of their others, but the soul filled “Sit Round The Table” seems to exemplify the feeling of contentment here.
Jawbone are a band that you feel could cheerfully go down that soul road, as it were, in future. “Two Billion Heartbeats” is another one that is about tone, and the closing, gorgeous “The Years Used To Mean So Much” is simply just a beautiful song. Written about Milner’s childhood, it will strike a chord with everyone who feels like reminiscing on better times.
Jawbone’s best years, though, are surely in front of them? Whatever, arguably the best supergroup you’ve never come across have created an album you must hear. This is one of the finest debut records in a very long time.
JAWBONE IS RELEASED ON NOVEMBER 9TH.