Jake Morley, Bush Hall, London
Monday 28 February 2011
As choir, musicians and their instruments assemble on stage, there's a sense that such an ambitious line-up will require an expert level of musicality. Luckily singer-songwriter Jake Morley and his impressive band more than have what it takes.
Morley opens with the confessional track "The Light", from his new album, Many Fish to Fry. It is impressive how endearing it is to hear someone belt out before hundreds of people their fear of exposing oneself to others.
After promising to bring himself into "The Light", Morley melodically confesses "I'm fairly messy, I pick my nose..." Such openness and self-deprecating humour has the whole audience smitten as he plucks away at his horizontal guitar like a wordsmith at a typewriter; it helps that he is incredibly talented when it comes to winning the crowd over.
For the urban rant "This City", Morley produces a cacophony of noises which sound like guitar, piano, and drums combined; his fingers strike at the guitar on his lap while he adroitly provides his own percussion by intermittently giving the instrument a rhythmic slapping – imagine Stevie Wonder tunefully swatting flies that keep landing on his keyboard while he's playing "Superstition" and you start to get the picture.
The crowd is enchanted by the lap guitar, and the band are consistently outstanding too; from the bluesy jazz-rap "Freddie Laid the Smack Down", to the radio-friendly "Feet Don't Fail Me Now", every instrument, from the double bass to the harmonica, occupies a harmonious place in the musical mosaic, creating an ambitious pop sound that is every bit as bright and sparkly as the main player himself.
Given his phenomenal band, his own masterful guitar-playing, and his crowd-pleasing "pop" melodies, Morley barely puts a foot wrong. My only quibble would be the attention he gives to his nostrils.
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