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Jack Blackman Jack Blackman
Album: Nearly Man
Label: Tuery
Tracks: 11

A world away from the raw blues I recall on our last passing in May 2015, Jack sharing bill with number of BBC Introducing artists gathered by Big Help Management at charity event A Concert For Nepal. Managing to catch brief conversation at the end of the night before he and lift, Luke Jackson, made their way northwards.

"Nearly Man" finds Jack taking a more laid back approach when crafting his third full length release at his own Tuery Studio in Atherstone, BTW Tuery local dialect for street. Ambitious journey recording and producing the album of 11 originals using multiple overdubs with Jack furthering accomplishment by providing banjo, mandolin, acoustic and 12 string guitar, bass, slide and electric guitar, harmonica, washboard and more exotic percussion accounting for all but 2 of the instruments.

"Nearly Man" spins direction with refined instrumentation and honeyed voice rewards both his own continual search and listener with an enlightenment worthy of praise destined to fall at his feet. Tile song even in demo form garnered just acclaim from Bob Harris, the legendary presenter enthusing 'exceptional guitarist, great isn't it'.

A different kind of blue, smooth is the description needed, yet adequately reflects an adventurous 2012 pilgrimage to the Mississippi Delta which includes highlight performance in Morgan Freeman's Clarksdale Ground Zero Blues Club.

From this moment on Jack himself takes up majority of story sharing inspiration to parts of the album...

Lead song 'Panther Burn' written around this time perfectly recalling pre-war blues and roots of the region and heralds the weariness that follows on personal take on the classic selling ones soul to the devil story. I think all musicians and artists have decided to make some kind of pact with themselves in one way or another when pursuing their creative ambitions. It's kinda a way of life to the sacrifice of everything else.

Cold on the Calls was written in Leeds more recently…the Calls are one of my favourite spots in the city by the river Aire. I lived there for three years whilst studying, I guess the song's about leaving people and places behind (or at least trying to).

In the Southern States, particularly the Mississippi Delta, I was taken by the bottle trees that people had in their backyards. These are dead trees that people have placed coloured glass bottles on the end of the branches that are said to trap evil spirits. I think everyone feels kinda trapped at one time or another, evil spirits or not.

Travelling Light is about long distance relationships, and the difficulties a gigging musician can have in keeping them alive when on the road. I was listening to a lot of Gram Parsons and alt-country kinda stuff when I was writing this one, so there's probably a bit of that in there somewhere. I guess it's a sad song…

I wrote Nearly Man a few years ago and did an acoustic demo video of it in February this year which caught the attention of Bob Harris. As a musician you can't help but notice the career trajectory of other musicians and wonder why success happens for one person and not another person…the same goes in love…and in life I suppose…

Hognose Gin is a tribute to the T-Model Ford, the blues musician who passed away in 2013, he wouldn't go on stage without a bottle of the stuff! Between the Cracks is about the horrific crossbow cannibal murders that happened in Bradford in 2009/10. I Stay Blue is probably the oldest song on the album, but one I play live very often and will probably continue to do so.

I wrote Take it From Me for my good friend and local legend Slopey. He quite literally comes from the same school as Robert Plant and John Bonham and was guitarist in 1960s psych-rock band The Chances Are before playing bass with Robert Plant's Band of Joy (pre-Zeppelin). He was in the pub one night and he did the vocal later that night.

During his teens Jack worked alongside luminaries Paul Jones and The Blues Band, more recently receiving accolades from Tony Joe White and Charlie Parr who marvelled at progress that he just keeps getting better and better with 'it's kinda scary'. Final word to Martin Simpson 'at last! A brilliant young guitarist coming through'. Listener's turn to stand with such giants.

Tony Wilding