REVIEW: Jack Conman's "Sweet Julia"
Singer songwriter, Jack Conman, has certainly come a long way in the past five years. Originally based in Hull, but now sharing his time with Manchester too, he has released two EPs since his debut single “Misty Central” in 2015, launched a record label, Axolotyl Records, with producer Kev La Kat and continues to demonstrate his skills, not only as a poetic lyricist, but as a talented drummer and guitarist too. He has grown confident in the strength of his own sound, distinct from any over-embellishment of production and his new single, “Sweet Julia”, might be his most sophisticated but intimate song yet. Through just the partnership of vocals and guitar, Conman successfully creates an enduring sense of raw authenticity. It works almost as a hypnosis pendulum; you cannot help but sway along and feel as though you are sat in the corner of a bar with dimmed lights and red wine as you listen. This smooth, summer’s eve vibe was hinted at in “French Twinks Pornos” released earlier this year; it takes elements from Heddison but with more emphasis placed on the beauty of the guitar.
The track opens with a guitar riff carefully balanced in reverb and clarity; the type of reverb which is just enough for atmospheric ambience and space, but the type of clarity where even the plectrum hitting the strings and the fingers sliding on the fretboard is audible. This is something which remains throughout the entirety of the song. The vocals also echo a little and, though sometimes making the lyrics unclear, it aids the cool ‘laziness’ of the song. What is immediately apparent though, is the sense of yearning and longing displayed in Conman’s voice, which mirrors the nature of the lyrics: “I want to feel I’ve got some use. I need to feel I’m loved by you,” Conman confesses in the chorus with the addition of female vocal harmonies. This feeling is further amplified the second time round in which percussion is introduced, bringing with it a depth and intensity, though perhaps slightly short-lived. It is around this time that the guitar is given more space to sing, closing the track nicely as the reverberated notes gently fade away.
“Sweet Julia” shows Conman’s mature awareness for the beautiful simplicity there is in a track completely stripped back, showcasing the art of each instrument when necessary. It does not sound disjointed, or too bare, there is a unity with each component used to make the song work as a whole: the male and female vocals complement each other well, the addition of percussion towards the end drives the song forward and the guitar provides the underlying fashionably chilled vibe. A creative change to his previous work, Conman has shown his versatility and ability to stray away from the typical indie artist; a new sound for a new decade, and it will be interesting to see what he does next. In the meantime, though, “Sweet Julia” is definitely something to listen to and enjoy as a stunning form of escapism.
"Sweet Julia" is available on all major platforms, listen now on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/7unb7o1VB0kWOAKmqCluD9