Jack Penate is back with a second album that adds nothing new to the Singer/Songwriter market.
What is it with the insurgence of singer/songwriters? They all seem to have the same names. It’s as if they’ve been cloned by an evil corporation who have no imagination. First there was James Blunt, the tawdry former army officer, followed by his protégé James Morrison. Then there was Sandi Thom, surely a rehash of Dusty Springfield (sand and dust are obviously natures cousins). Now Jack Johnson, surfer, filmmaker, musician and all round American has his British counterpart in Jack Penate.
With the release of his second album ‘Everything Is New’ on 22nd June, Penate provides nine tracks which all sound strikingly similar, give or take a few chords. Dubbed as ‘a soul record’ it was recorded over a twelve month period and produced by Paul Epworth, known for his work with Friendly Fires and Bloc Party, but there is less to work with here and the LP often falls flat.
Opening track, ‘Pull My Heart Away’ begins with a satisfying rumble of low noted synths but breaks into a trill irritating guitar riff as Penate comments on the end of a relationship which, let’s face it, is hardly original. Second track ‘Be the one’ sounds almost identical with its chirpy lyrics and repetitive chorus. ‘Tonight’s Today’, with its samba beat and Caribbean style doesn’t seem to go anywhere, there is no build up or change at all. The only reason for its existence, it seems, is to continue on the albums motif of variable pointlessness. Harsh words, but they need to be said. Eighth track, ‘Let’s All Die’ is an oxymoronic mix of morbid lyrics set to a chirpy, up tempo melody that could have worked in theory but missed the mark in practise.
‘Body Down’ is arguably the most valiant attempt. There is more going on throughout and it’s the only song that works well with the lo-fi aspect of the production. Continually, ‘Every Glance’ also has its credible components, mostly due to backing vocals from additional singers and the echo on Penate’s voice which creates a cathedral affect and at least adds a different aspect to the album.
‘Everything Is New’ is purposefully lo-fi, but lacks the compassion and emotion to pull off this type of production. There is little here to hold your attention and although Penate has a good voice, there is no real passion in the lyrics that, presumably, were meant to pull at the heart strings. It’s not that Penate lacks talent but, in an age where any attractive person with a guitar can sign a three album deal, the formula of man+voice+guitar=success can’t work every time and the LP feels middle ground because of this. With so many other singer/songwriters competing for space in an over populated market, Jack Penate has unfortunately, created nothing that hasn’t been heard before.