I’ve never been good at receiving compliments – so how do I feel about criticism? Especially a comprehensive annihilation of the idea there’s any worth in my music at all. I got served properly in Paul Lester’s piece in The Guardian last week.
For a little while I decided not to read it. The ‘ignore your own press’ mantra has always been an attractive one. But ignoring has to be a thoughtless act, not an incessant effort, and I was failing at that so I read it.
I can’t pretend his critique was totally off the mark. Yes some of the lyrics on MFTF don’t lay out the secrets of the universe like a tapestry at your feet. I don’t have that fantasy other-worldliness quality of Lady Gaga at the O2 or Ziggy Stardust in 1973.
But then I’m not a stadium act, and playing that grandiose shit would feel wrong in the pubs and clubs I cut my teeth in. I had to walk on stage as me, not as someone else. That’s the reality of a world without massive record contracts. If you don’t like it, go buy some records and make record companies rich again so they can waste it all on capes and special effects. That’s not a failure of imagination from me, it’s just me being me. And just because I’m personal doesn’t mean I can’t be transportative. Who knows maybe I’ll get more into capes on my third or fourth album, but not yet. Let me develop.
Of course I’m disappointed. I’m not going to gloss over it like I totally don’t care. Lot’s of people now mistakenly think my career is a meaningless quest to promote biscuits to the soundtrack of weak lift music. Even worse I was accused of being a ‘fauxhemian’ – a faker. To dislike my music is one thing, to suggest I’m faking it is another. And only someone with no clue could confuse me with Jack Johnson.
But perhaps that’s his point. How can you distinguish between one male songwriter and another if all you hear is the same white noise when they open their identically stubbled faces? It was the genre that took the biggest bashing, not whatever my contribution to it is, and in that sense I escaped the review unharmed.
So don’t be too hard on Paul Lester – he’s just calling it as he sees it and credit to him for that. Perhaps it’s an opportunity for me to learn something that I wouldn’t have learned if he loved it. Who knows – maybe he’ll learn something too – he’s graciously accepted my offer to come down to my next London gig to see what it’s like.
Anyway, it’s all a process and I’m not going away, whether it’s the last press article I get or not. Plus there’ll be no references to the loo in my next album. I want every word to pack a punch.
It takes enormous talent to produce what you produce, Jake. I’ve seen you twice now and can’t wait for the next time you visit Birmingham (hint, hint). I’ve never walked out halfway through your gig due to boredom… I did, however, stop reading Mr Lester’s article about halfway through. Fortunately I don’t need a man who uses the words “tawdriness” and “crappy” in the same article (I suspect he lost his thesaurus when he commented on your love life) to tell me what good music is!
I can’t help but think with all the stuff he wrote about biscuits and girls needing the loo he has obviously never heard of Alex Turner before as his lyrical genius is about nothing more than writing about everyday shit and he’s got to be one of the best lyricists going… and that is what make his, and your, music so appealing so don’t listen to Paul and if you did start singing about world peace etc I might have to punch you in the face!
Jake we love your lyrics – we’d be disappointed if you didn’t mention the loo, nose-picking, cake and choc-chip cookies – it makes you original and entertaining! my favourite all time lyric is “I like cake, I don’t believe in regrets”! You can’t please all of the people all of the time, so keep doing what you love: part of the reason we love your music is because it’s so obvious how much you love doing it and how much of yourself you put into it. See you at Tonefest xx
Shit Jake, don’t fret about it. Your stuff genuinely moves me, relates directly to my life and the way I experience the world. I’m forever pondering on scenario’s… Moved a lot as a kid, spoke with a strange accent and got bullied accordingly.. Its nice to hear someone put it into song and realise that of course, it wasn’t just me, cos at the time it felt like it was. here’s hoping you just keep being you and never grow pretentions!
Anybody who appreciates good quality live music, great musianship, stuff that’s “different to the norm” and great songwriting will appcreiate Jake’s music. Somebody who writes music reviews for the Guardian ought to fall into that category, but obviously not in this case. The kind of person I would imagine would write a bad review about someone like Jake is the kind of person who is only really happy seeing a band playing songs they are familiar with, who would perhaps rather see a crap rock and pop covers band playing stuff they know badly than see a great original act.
I saw you at Indy Jax in Hemel and have a lovely signed cd. I haven’t seen you since (due to my schedule, not your music!) but I have listened to the album loads and think it’s very good. Don’t get me wrong, I love a bit of Gaga, but I think you’ve had more playtime than she has (compliment very much intended).
Fret not Jake, I don’t think *anyone* apart from Paul Lester has ever heard you and thought ‘there’s a right Fauxhemian there.’ He’s WAY off the mark on that one and I’d be surprised if he doesn’t change his mind after seeing your next gig. Looking forward to the next record! Meanwhile I’m off to the gym for a Morley-soundtracked workout. Keep up the good work, that man!
Amen brother….Keep doin’ wot you doin’ !!!
Fuck ’em , renewed my interest in new acoustic music with the generic stuff thats coming through the radio at the moment, was amazing to hear something and see something different…a unique style. Not long til this will be recognized on a larger scale! Never really been one to go to live gigs, but properly enjoyed your performance in Dundee, and has renewed a massive interest in the genre!….talent!