Album review by KevW
As we've learnt in the past, Belle & Sebastian spin-off projects should be treated with some trepidation. Looper, The Gentle Waves, V-Twin, The Reindeer Section, God Help The Girl, Tired Pony... they all had their moments but ultimately lacked the substance of their parent group and the hit and miss nature soon became tired, the only exception being Isobel Campbell's lauded work with Mark Lanegan. Erstwhile guitarist Stevie Jackson has contributed some very fine songs to B&S's cannon in the past, 'Seymour Stein' and 'The Wrong Girl' being particular favourites. So news of his debut solo album was met with less concern than the Glasgow collective's other side-projects. Plus he deserves kudos for the slightly inspired title '(I Can't Get No) Stevie Jackson'.
Can he step up to the plate and craft an album of note on his own? Well naturally members of B&S have been drafted in to help at points, as have members of The Pastels, Trembling Bells and The New Pornographers, whereas The Company have writing credits on some songs. So far so good. Until kick-off time that is. Opening track 'Pure Of Heart' contains the lyrics "Sitting with my lunch box, plain bread, Mother's Pride, brown crust on the outside." Twee much? It hardly gets things off to a flying start, being little more than a passable mid-paced piano ballad. In an interesting twist, it's followed by 'Just, Just, So To The Point' which takes in indie-funk, but it's little more than interesting and really shouldn't be considered more than B-side material.
All is not lost however, as the punky-pop of 'Try Me' livens things up without being particularly impressive. There are adequate attempts at country/soul hybrids ('Richie Now', 'Press Send'), there's folky guitar-pop (the rather good 'Dead Man's Fall', 'Kurosawa') and 'Man Of God' and the rocky 'Where Do All The Good Girls Go?' are nice enough, but surely we can expect more than just nice enough? Only the orchestral 'Telephone Song' aims higher. You know the so-so filler that often pads out albums yet you're willing to live with it as better songs await? Sadly '(I Can't Get No) Stevie Jackson' is made up of nothing but this filler. We've heard him do better, we know he can do better, but sadly this album is just another forgettable Belle & Sebastian spin-off.
Stevie Jackson's website
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