Following on quickly from last year’s debut EP The Pessimist, Warrnambool trio Blackwood Jack craft their own unique brand of rootsy and soul inflected rock with latest single Gravity. Comprised of frontman Ben Cue (guitar/vocals) as well as cousins Daniel Paroissien (Bass/Vocals) and Talen Galbraith (Drums) the three-piece started out playing covers in their hometown in order to make ends meet after graduating high school.
Quickly discovering the selfless attitude and varied soul, rock, pop and garage influences of each member made for a verdant creative environment the group began writing their own material and taking their music in interesting directions.
The rugged yet tender nature of Blackwood Jack’s execution of Gravity has us fervently waiting for their sophomore EP.
The trio have since become regulars on the Melbourne music scene and after a foray into the world of blues decided to forge their own musical path in 2014, which culminated in the release of their debut EP last year. 2015 has already proven a busy year for the band who have headlined their own gigs, supported Melbourne contemporaries The Pretty Littles and The Mary Goldsmiths as well as played The Meadow Festival in idyllic rural Victoria. Taking a full DIY approach to recording, Gravity was cut at a secluded hall in Kennedy Creek.
Built around the catchy yet disturbing vocal hook “What the hell you want gravity, when you’re always high?” the track combines sparse piano chords, densely layered instrumental sections, unconventional drum figures and Cue’s distinctive vocals to create an offbeat yet captivating sound which draws comparison to acts like alt-J and the Alabama Shakes.
Capturing the stripped back and soulful vibe of previous tracks like The Pessimist, Cue’s rugged yet tender vocals form a centre point which remains a constant amongst the shifting sea of instrumental layers and eerie harmonies which drop in and out throughout the mix. Exploiting the natural reverberations of the recording space the track contains a lot of natural ‘space’, providing an intimate and authentic dimension to the track’s production, particularly for the piano and guitar work.
Starting with a soft sound the track gradually builds in volume and layers in additional musical elements before receding to the track’s initial sparsity in the middle 8 and rebuilding into a climatic guitar driven instrumental. While, Cue has shed little light on the lyrics’ inspiration in order to add to the ambiguous character of the song, Paroissien believes the lyrics convey the feelings of angst of an individual at odds with themselves and overly preoccupied with the perceptions of others.
If this is the case the angst and vulnerability of the narrative’s protagonist are perfectly conveyed by Cue’s emotive vocals as well as the ominous and often overpowering build of the instrumentation. For those eager to hear more Blackwood Jack’s sophomore EP is expected to drop in late September.