To say that my connection to Jack Peñate is more than a little bit skin deep is, in fact, an understatement. His debut album, “Matinée”, was playing when I had my first tattoo done — two sparrows under my collar bone.
Back in 2007, Lily Allen, Kate Nash and the rest of the mockney gang were at the height of their fame. MySpace had given birth to a new breed of pop music — one that didn’t need to be as polished as it needed to. This music gave off the appearance of being slightly more ‘real’ with lyrics about chips (fries), estates (the projects) and growing up in Laaarndarn town (London), but beneath all that, it was almost the musical equivalent to a Guy Ritchie movie, with less violence. Possibly a little bit too much hype and style, without some of the talent and content to back it up.
Peñate‘s first effort provided just enough rock’n’roll edge not to be mainstream pop, but also infused enough energy and freshness to make tracks easily accessible to pop listeners. Then a second album followed in 2009 with a slightly more poppy direction (and even some dance beats). While it was warmly received by audiences, it didn’t rocket him to within spitting distance of the Hollywood stars, thus keeping him on the outskirts of music’s inner circle.
After a couple of quiet years Jack is now back! (Well… almost back.) His Tumblr account has been pretty active of late, it’s also been pretty cryptic. However, in-between the hipstamatic imagery — that somehow makes me homesick for an area of London I never actually lived in — there are some small nuggets of music happening.
Most prominent of these is the video for “No One Lied” — a one take, black and white video with varying focus of Jack and a guitar that is one of the simplest yet most captivating videos I’ve ever seen. The song is haunting and beautiful in itself without the (dare I say it) timeless video. A stripped down number that demonstrates Jack’s firm grasp of songwriting and structure, coupling that with his rough and raw vocal delivery of the lines “Heaven is a place, no one lied” is enough to send shivers up anyone’s spine.
Hopefully an album will be out in time for summer and some lazy afternoons in the sun. So be sure to keep him on your radar…