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Jake MorleyJake Morley
Album: The Manual
Label: Sandwich Emporium
Tracks: 11

"There isn't a manual for becoming an adult, so I decided to make my own." Eleven highly personal tracks from Jake Morley's own personal philosophy. A journey he's called from confusion to confidence, fear to freedom.

He's known for his unique guitar style - you know the one that's becoming more widespread, where you lay the instrument across your lap and do all sorts of tapping on the frets and slap the sides for percussive effects. That's probably doing Jake a complete disservice as having seen him play live, he's quite a compelling solo act. Having said that, there's little of that trademark on 'The Manual'. In fact, if truth be told, within the opening minutes you might swear you were listening to the people's band from Manchester, Elbow. Stark arrangements, quirkiness, strings and the Morley voice not quite at the smokes and whiskey honed Garvey intensity but a much more refined and orchestrated backdrop. One he's obviously mulled over and found as the ideal way to complement the lyrical direction.

The strength of 'The Manual' is plenty of musing and soul searching from Morley. At times appearing highly personal and intimate, the door to his psyche not just ajar but prised open in an outpouring of thoughts on his struggles with personal demons and challenges. Lyrical clues are everywhere. The title track talks of the need for learning to become a man, the recognition of accountability and is probably the key moment of the album; a bluesy shuffle and not necessarily revelatory, but empowering and encapsulating a collection which seems both personally therapeutic and one to tap into when overwhelmed by those everyday questions of existence.

A journey which begins with a snapping rhythm and spiralling strings of 'The Floods' and the emotional software malfunction of 'Strange Loop', accompanied by looped sound effects and which ends with 'Start Again' - a new beginning, bouncing back, optimistically fighting back. At times it's bold and stark, slightly chilling; at times touching and intimate. 'Falter' laments the old headstrong and compulsiveness, again accompanied by an Elbow fashioned soundtrack but it's not until 'Lionchild' that the more familiar Morley delivery kicks in. The familiar recognisable guitar style and breakneck vocal delivery - how much goes on in that first ten seconds?

It might be a cliché, but 'The Manual' is one of those albums giving a clear indication that someone has grown up. Jake Morley has packed a lot into 40 minutes; the result of contemplation and confession, for whatever reason or however inspired, and questioning his existence, as we all perhaps ponder at times, yet revealing an unexpected fragility.

Mike Ainscoe