Jack O’ The Clock – album – Leaving California (Cuneiform Records) – “A Wide-Ranging Musical Adventure Six Years in the Making” so we’re told, Jack O’ The Clock’s new album is an immediately impressively beguiling ride of an album And yes, Leaving California is a highly-detailed musical adventure that does indeed reveal new layers (and one big solid mass of connections) with repeated listens, the more you explore the more the colour is revealed and the better it all gets. It is all very easy on the ear, light, breezy, upbeat, almost simple in a very (very) clever way.
Some of the album is indeed almost whimsical (actually most of it is, that’s no bad thing), almost folksy, some of it something like something you’d call alt-Americana or almost country flavoured, some of it almost angular, think something almost like Fairport Convention meeting something almost like Elliott Smith, or maybe even, at a stretch, almost like Jefferson Airplane or just maybe Yes, actually there’s a quite a lot of bits that are almost like Yes. Think creative musical arrangements, tight almost orchestral compositional and instrumental warmth that never feels the need to get too self indulgent or to show off. Just beautifully crafted tunes, beautiful songs, beautifully detailed – songs and tunes alive with detail, alive with so much, do watch out for that sharp butcher’s knife though and that X above the eyes and..
It is about the detail, yes it is immediate, there are hooks that get you straight away, but it is really about the detail and the looking into those eyes (and everyone else’s lies) and the sails all full of wind. it is about the scrutiny and the things revealed as you go round again (and again). And it does seem very personal, story telling, tale telling, the title track Leaving California does take you with the emotion of the song and the actual leaving and all that that clearly involved. The album is almost jazz-inflected, refined, dare we say almost progressive in a very warm inviting way. Some of it, Narrow Gate especially almost is progressive rock in the very best sense of all that is good about prog rock. The whole album kits together beautifully and yes, )or Yes), Leaving California isone big wholesome reward whole. But but but, you do have to let it grow around you, you do have to let the detail in.
Seems the group initially met “as students at Oakland’s Mills College and since 2013, Hoopes and Glenn have played in the Fred Frith Trio with their former professor and one of the original visionaries of British progressive rock. Waitkus initially conceived the band as an acoustic songwriting group, but a wide range of influences — from jazz and free improv to folk musics from around the world — and his own experiences as a contemporary classical composer helped create what he has referred to as “majestic junk folk.” Since Jack O’ The Clock’s first record — 2009’s Rare Weather — Jack O’ The Clock has become a tight and formidable ensemble whose music has evolved through a prolific stretch of releases”
Don’t take out word for it, it does feel effortless and it is hard not to hit repeat and head back to Jubilation one more time, but don’t just take our word for it, “One of the most original and compelling groups I know, playing some amazing compositions that seem to tread effortlessly between Van Dyke Parks and folk music from an as yet unidentified culture, while making all the things you’ve always thought of as difficult sound as effortless and natural as breathing… Amazing production. Extraordinary compositions. You need to hear it.” – Fred Frith
There you have it, right said Fred, the delight is in the detail, the hooks will get you straight away but let the detail flow, let it unwrap itself (sw)
Words and music by Damon Waitkus, except “Narrow Gate,” music by Damon Waitkus, Emily Packard, Jason Hoopes, Jordan Glenn, and Evelyn Davis.