Jack Arthurs is a Newcastle based singer/songwriter and Treasure House is his second album. Just him and a guitar – simples. Well not that simple, rich songs full of emotion and meaning reminiscent of the sort of material that used to appear at the folk evenings in Wotter, a pleasant village on the edge of Dartmoor, where the young Lakeman’s used to appear, probably still do if it is still there. You can wring a lot of emotion from a box with strings and Jack achieves this in spades, higher pitched than Steve Knightly (Show of Hands), close to that of Matthew Jay, long departed sadly, but still those songs are so strong.
I find my foot tapping as I try to keep time with Mr Arthurs, a sure sign that an ear worm is developing; Lift Me Up, and it does. Jack describes the songs as celebrating imagination and transformation on his website. In terms of complexity, forget it, this is music at its conception level, music for moments that, should you wish, would be just as happy in your lounge as around a camp fire.
The cover evokes a stark landscape depicting Bamburgh Castle, I think, on a stormy evening, although I’ve not been there. I always feel better if I like the cover. Now the normal breakdown for a review is a pen picture of the essential tracks, so…oh alright, not this time, I can’t really divide them up to some better than the other so in petulant child fashion, it’s all good. Listen for yourself and don’t be so tight; buy it! My caveat for that being if you like pared down acoustic music that, to my ears, still sounds damned good.
Jack is a troubadour in the best sense, not unlike John Martyn in his less intoxicated, sunnier disposition mood, not to say that there is not darkness in the lyrics. It is a Bad Elephant release but it is not progressive, then what is progressive? It is a delightful little album that does warm the cockles; better than average but not qualifying as essential, that said I am glad to have heard it, and am happy to recommend it.
My favourites are the aforementioned Lift Me Up, The Sleeping Sea and the title track Treasure House; all that glitters is not gold, but you will find a few precious gems and pieces of silver here.
01. Change Your Mind (3:41)
02. North Star (3:30)
03. Lift Me Up (5:18)
04. Feel Your Pain (4:06)
05. The Sleeping Sea (3:40)
06. Waves of Sunlight (4:49)
07. Spirals (2:48)
08. Hope (5:18)
09. Treasure House (4:38)
10. Soaring (5:09)
Total Time – 42:57
Jack Arthurs – Vocal & Guitars
Record Label: Bad Elephant Music
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 5th Feb 2016
Jack Arthurs – Website | Facebook