Just Jack

The Outer Marker (TVT Records)

The biggest disservice you could do Just Jack would be to approach his debut album, The Outer Marker, thinking of him as a follower of the Streets. Sure, they're both white guys from the United Kingdom who speak observationally about their surroundings and life in general in a frisky accent, but that's where the similarities stop. Just Jack's one-man operation under its voice/producer Jack Allsop culls more from soul entities such as Jill Scott and singer-songwriters like Jack Johnson than it does from hip-hop influences. There is a basic beats background on The Outer Marker, but the music is on the midtempo mellow side. Excellent use of strings is made on "Heartburn" and "Eye to Eye," giving depth to the minimal, but tight bedroom-style production. The drum and bass infusion on the soul-baring "Triple Tone Eyes" provides perfect accompaniment to the song's emotional content. Allsop's flow is unassuming and nonconfrontational. He politely discusses what's been going on in his day(s) with the listener, sounding all the while like he's sitting next to you on the couch at a civilized party with pleasantly buzzed people in attendance. Only falling into rhythmic "rapping" during the choruses, Allsop simply but effectively speaks the truth in a mature and direct fashion. Dubious borrowing from the Cure on "Snowflakes" aside, The Outer Marker has fashioned a unique niche for itself. The key is to allow it to exist there without attempting to ascribe other artists' music to it.

 
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