Though his 2002 debut album, The Outer Marker
gained favorable reviews (with some criticism on his lyrics) from a number of music magazines, Jack Allsopp, AKA Just Jack was ignored by the majority of the British public he was trying to reach. It would in fact take five years, or really two TV performances, which would literally blast Jack to the top of the charts.
One of they key ingredients to this sudden success was the poppy single ‘Starz in Their Eyes’, reaching number 2 on the UK singles chart. Typical, as the first single of the album, ‘Writer’s Block’, gained no recognition but was a far better representation of Just Jack’s sound.
Most of the music here is rooted in laid back hip-hop or contemporary R’n‘B, but that by no means pinpoints it. Throughout the album Allsopp weaves in funky basslines, mellow indie guitars, and jazzy brass sections. Though this might seem to make for great variety, Allsopp never lets these elements play such a big part that it would damage his sound to the point where you’d think there’s a different artist at work. Diverse enough to make a good variety songs, yet enough similarity to be on the same album.
This said, there is a certain difference in quality between the songwriting. ‘I Talk Too Much’ is simply the ultimate Justin Timberlake song(which might be the reason why it isn’t a single) that JT never wrote. Unlike most of the other songs, it packs a lot more energy, with catchy vocal lines on the verses. ‘Lost’ is the perfect example that Allsopp can
write some pretty good lyrics. Flowing rhymes lay down a story of a middle aged guy with a midlife crisis and all of his problems rooted in luxury of some sort. Topped off with a chorus that sticks in your head after just one listen, makes it one of the best songs on the album.
On the other hand, the album starts off rather weak. ‘Glory Days’ is a sing-along/feel good type of song, but its ska-like brass section just sticks out like a sore thumb with the rest of the album. ‘Disco Friends’ is the result of what happens when you take a minimalistic approach to your music but don’t use the instruments at your disposal to their full extent. Build around three keyboard chords, it really just repeats over and over, letting the listener’s attention slip away too easily.
What this ends up in is an album of extremities. Some songs are just so-so, but the songs that are beyond excellent are what makes this album a worthwhile purchase.