I won’t lie to you, beloved reader. You may not believe me. But surprise you as it may, I really like good music. There, I said it. Shameful I know. It’s how the Jellyfish brought us together in the first place. My sad little hand went up in the weekly meeting and I said “Hi, my name is Simon and I like good music”. There was a smattering of applause, a man with a beard and no shirt stood up, and spilled his cider everywhere as he shook my hand. I was the only one at the meeting who could spell my own name so I didn’t have much competition. The job was mine. I soon woke up chained to a radiator in a dark room with a typewriter at my feet. Someone in a mermaid costume keeps screaming “diddy mao” at me. For every good piece I write I get a new album to review and half an apple. I don’t know what happens if I write worst. All things considered this is still the best job I’ve ever had.
Anyway I like music, I like it all (well most of it, Mumford & Sons can go fuck). I particularly enjoy rock music from the heavier end of the spectrum. I like both alternative and not-so-alternative, I like both kind of cores, and I like most of the grungy little sub-genres. However, over the last few years it’s with my love of blues that I have really been spoilt rotten, some really amazing blues artists coming to the fore and Salvation Jayne are the latest to catch my attention. They truly are excellent.
The Canterbury based quartet released their ‘I’ll be Damned’ EP last year which somehow snuck past me at the time; now though, I absolutely love it. With Amy Benham’s big soulful vocals and a sultry rockabilly twinge, opening track ‘Black Eyes‘ sounds more Nashville than North Downs with the fine guitarwork of Holly Kinnear providing a brilliantly meaty contrast to the strong vocals. The rhythm section of Drummer Lucy Foster and Bassist Dan Lucas are extremely competent and pleasantly restrained when they need to be (as all good rhythm sections should be) yet a memorable bass line in the middle-8 merely emphasises the depth of talent possessed by Salvation Jayne.
Title track ‘I’ll Be Damned‘ opens with the soaring chug of a bass blues riff, but such a busy opening leaves the song sounding a little cluttered, it’s when the track settles into a delicately restrained and tasteful verse where the song really takes off. The vocals shine as they do in ‘Black Eyes’ and the guitar punctuates with strength and a conviction missing in the opening bars. It’s not that the intro doesn’t work; it just feels like a few separate songs rolled into one. In fact once that the song hits the 2:10 mark, I found myself blissfully lost in ‘I’ll Be Damned’. I like it, just not as much as I’d like it if the opening riff had a little more space on the record. I’d bet that it sounds bloody good live though!
And even just from the opening 5 seconds of the EPs final track ‘Secret Sin’, I know that I’m going to like it. The intro is slow building and heavy, leading to a verse that epitomises everything you want from soulful rhythm and blues, gorgeously contrasting without clashing. It’s big and full of attitude, but at no point gaudy; emotive and catchy without seeming cheesy or cheap. As someone who often appreciates the music in a song much more than a vocal, listening to what the guitar is doing usually offers me the most enjoyment. And while the band complement each other amazingly well and shouldn’t be ignored (I could seriously write at least another 400 words on Kinnear’s guitar tone alone!). I simply can’t take my attention away from Benham’s immensely soulful delivery. She has a voice that all should envy, as comfortable at the lows as she is up in the heights, with a conviction that is often lacking in modern music.
This EP is something that makes being chained up in a dark cellar and forced to review songs so damn worthwhile and I can’t praise Salvation Jayne enough. You should check them out. They’re awesome, honest.