You should never judge a book by its cover, we’re told, and the same is true of album covers. I took this album for review with a slight sense of trepidation. As a title Fag Ash And Beer, along with a cover photo of Jake playing a guitar in his kitchen, fag in mouth, had me thinking I’d be listening to the sort of person you see in the corner of a pub playing well known standards. Fortunately it turned out I was wrong. Fag Ash And Beer is a well crafted set of eleven self-penned songs performed by Jake and a good backing band.
Opening the album ‘Elvis Has Left The Building’ is an instrumental introducing the band which builds from a bluesy guitar intro into a Hammond led piece of prog rock from Steve Lodder. This is followed by the title track, a love song of sorts but with any sense of romance stripped away. There’s neither wine nor roses whilst a cemetery with a broken tombstone becomes the trysting ground.
“And the fag ash and beer wasn’t a sacrament
But it was pretty damn close.”
This pattern of instrumental pieces is repeated through the album, with the last three tracks being all instrumental, an idea that grew from the original concept. Initially Jake was recording acoustic material, which he was pretty happy with, but to reach the sound of ‘Give Me Your Horse’, the single from the album, “...I asked the players if they’d come in again to record a couple of live tracks and colour in some of the acoustic takes”.
It works well, giving a bigger sound than he would have had originally whilst retaining the acoustic sound and nu-folk feel, along with Jake’s singing style which is reminiscent of Mark Knopfler.
The instrumental pieces are on the album on merit, varying in style and tempo and showing Jake’s skill as a guitarist. As a whole Fag Ash And Beer works well as a début album showcase for a writer and performer of high standard. Checking out the social media there aren’t any live shows listed, either as a individual of for the band, which is a shame. For now we’ll have to content ourselves with a recording that is available from the website as a CD or limited edition vinyl, or can be downloaded through Amazon and other streaming platforms.
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‘Elvis Has Left The Building’: