I was fortunate enough to see Jack Garratt perform at Reading festival last year. The over-flowing tent suggested that he wasn’t one to miss, as everyone focused on one man and his diverse ability as a musician. In my opinion, he was one of the best acts of the festival, and this was helped greatly by his modest and authentic attitude towards it all.
It was refreshing to see an artist show appreciation for the audience and their time in the lime light, especially when being welcomed by roars of clapping and screaming, as he effortlessly moved from guitar, to drum pad, to keys; not to mention his passioned soulful vocals, reminiscent of Justin Timberlake at times.
Furthermore, as the winner of 2016 BRITs Critics Choice Award, there’s no wonder as to why he had such a huge year in 2015! Previous winners such as Adele, Jessie J, Florence and the Machine and Sam Smith help us contextualise just how phenomenal Garratt’s music is and to what heights he’s been tipped to reach, and by no means has he fallen short of expectations. Older songs: “Worry” and “Weathered” were arguably the foundational pieces for his break-through, followed by “Chemical” and “The Love We’re Given”; which all feature on his debut album Phase.
A favourite of BBC Radio 1, Garratt has been given frequent air play, and has featured in the BBC Live Lounge, where he performed a Craig David/Justin Timberlake cover, as well as his single “Worry“. The record explores the painful loss of a loved one, and his raw emotions whilst enduring the absence: “As if i haven’t felt your breath in every step I take when the wind blows”.
These lyrics bleed a backlog of emotional turmoil, however the chorus comes together as a powerful kick in the teeth, as he literally spits this message of disgust across the mic, whilst battering his distorted electric guitar. His falsetto lifts the choruses above the sinister verses, and delivers an almost ironic lyric to the piece; telling her not to “worry about it”, as he’ll deal with it all alone. It’s easy to sympathise with Garratt, whilst he delivers such an impassioned song, and empathise with this pain and suffering, and similarly despise the person it’s directed to.
As a one-man band, it’s difficult to ignore the comparison between himself and Ed Sheeran, however I feel he holds a closer resettlement of style with James Blake. The gospel vocals, and deep bass throughout “Weathered” depict an authentic and peaceful image of ageing. His lyrics are calmer and more fluent in comparison to “Worry”, which presents a comforting contrast, as “Weathered” seems to be uplifting and positive. The music video portrays 3 brothers exploring the wild; learning from one-another and being at one with nature, and this helps create the refreshing and genuine meaning behind the track.
Phase is a body of work overflowing with Jack’s diverse style of writing: comprising of electro, dubstep and acoustic ballad tracks. One of his newer pieces “Far Cry” begins with a piano accompaniment, to be enlarged by a sub-heavy bass, and then completely uplifted with an electronic synth; constantly chopping and changing between beats. Whilst an older piece, “The Love You’re Given” ventures into unrequited love, and haunting lyrics such as, “I’ve been trying to give you my love, but you won’t let me”, which balances over an ethereal melody.
The album is just the start of this unique sound, and I’m excited to see how he develops and matures over the next year. He embarks on his tour at the beginning of April, traveling the vast majority of the UK before finishing with two dates in The Netherlands on the 11th and 13th of May. Jack Garratt’s Phase is out now on Island Records, purchase it on iTunes here.
Words by Will Rowe-Parr