A guitarist and singer songwriter from London, as a teenager Jake Aaron was heavily into the likes of Adam and the Ants, 80s synth pop and Iron Maiden. But then he stumbled across Jerry Donahue playing The Claw on a telecaster and Jorma Kaukonen’s Embryonic Journey. Since which time, he’s been carving out a place for himself on the London folk circuit and has now released his debut EP.
Adopting a speak-sing delivery and accompanying himself on acoustic classical guitar, the five tracks clearly position him in the British folk-blues revival sound of the late 60s, his lyrics both taking in the world around him and offering words of love. First up is the relaxed 1790, his warm tones offering “It’s not the way you smile or hold my hand, what you say to me when there’s no one else around” against a fingerpicked circling guitar line, though I confess I have no idea where the title fits in.
Record Player shows the Kaukonen influence in its acid-blues undercurrent, the guitar shadowed by a muted background drum on a song about teenage frustration (“don’t fuck with me ‘cos I may be eightee , but I’m going on eighty three”), a similar mood of urban aggression percolating through the five-and-half minute snapshot of a Soho evening in Dalston Kingsland (“Outside the English are getting rowdy with their Stella and wode…. A dog is off the leash, it’s all skull and teeth …. In the distance sirens start to whine. Then we hear the cry. This place would blow sky high if I gave the sign”).
Turning up the tempo, the closing track, Constitution Blues, has a more urgent rhythm while, if you can imagine Johnny Flynn with a John Cooper Clarke styled delivery, Aaron talks up another dose of urban angst in the line “saw the ghost standing there in a shroud. It took possession of my troubled soul but gave it back, I can see you’ve got problems of your own.”
If the guitar playing on these is effective but unfussy, the instrumental cut, High Rolling, shows what he can do when he lets his fingers loose, earning comparisons to the likes of Fahey and Kottke. It’s early days yet, but if he has more where this came from and can add some variation to his singing style, then his future looks bright.
Review by: Mike Davies