Having heard his husky voice and poetic lyrics ring through emotional episodes of One Tree Hill, The Vampire Diaries and Grey’s Anatomy, or humming out softly behind the chatter in various coffee shops, I initially thought of Jack Savoretti as a background artist, the perfect revision playlist or song to snooze to. However, having trawled gig websites at the beginning of term to be sure of bagging tickets on any half-decent live music events in the North East, I noticed Jack was giving the Sage Gateshead a turn, and decided that his music needed another chance: at this point I found my misconceptions began to change.
English-Italian singer-songwriter Jack Savoretti began to write music at the age of 16, his love for poetry, to ‘sit under a tree with a notebook, go somewhere else in [his] head’ translated to a superb ability for lyric writing. Although Jack’s newest album Before the Storm recorded at Kensal Town Studios, is in fact his third, after eight years of battling the desires of his former label and management he has, in his own words only just ‘found [his] sound’. Savoretti describes his past albums, ‘Between the Minds’ and ‘Harder than Easy’, as a journey of ‘soul searching’ and ‘sound searching’, whilst his newest album is ‘home sweet home’. His catchy melody’s could be placed beside the likes of Paolo Nutini or Ray Lamontagne, with some members of the music industry coining him, rather presumptuously, “the new Bob Dylan”. Jack wanted ‘Before The Storm’ to be a 13-track album of tracks all with the ability to stand-alone; in my opinion, having listened to the entirety of this album multiple times whilst trekking around Durham, his record has mostly accomplished what he set out to do. Although referring to him as the next Bob Dylan may be a little more than a slight aberration, the influence of Paul Simon, Jackson Browne, Nick Drake and indeed Bob Dylan are intermingled throughout the album, with a strong 60’s Californian Eagles vibe in tracks such as ‘The Proposal’.
Due to my growing love for Savoretti’s ‘Before the Storm’ tracks, I naturally had low expectations for his live set this week; I found it hard to believe his beautiful voice would translate in life – surely he won’t sound the same, it’s not possible? I was mistaken. His rough vibrato and passionate tone that has accompanied me around town for the past few weeks was, if anything, more intense, highlighted by the The Sage’s wonderfully intimate circular Second Hall. The theatre was packed out with 40-somethings whipping up a middle-aged frenzy bouncing around on their seats, especially to the upbeat songs of the album such as ‘Knock Knock’ and ‘Lifetime’. I did indeed find this fairly enjoyable to experience, but surely this music could appeal to the younger audience? Just because Savoretti found his UK fame through Radio 2, does he really belong there? Thankfully the audience were allowed a quick cool down after the whirl of these more rock-style songs, as he proceeded to perform a solo acoustic set of ‘Crazy Fool’ and a quirky cover of Johnny Cash’s ‘Ring of Fire’.
Although Jack has been inspired by the Italian musician’s tradition of being both the storyteller and the singer, some of his tracks could be criticised for their shallow and simplified words on intimacy, death and the meaning of existence. I would also like to highlight that he has a tendency to recycle certain guitar riffs and drum beats in multiple opening bar sequences. I found this highlighted with that awkward moment in a gig when you think you know a song, that initial rush of excitement, ‘I KNOW THIS SONG, I KNOW IT!’ rapidly escalating into, ‘Oh wait, do I? No, I don’t? I’ll stop dancing so enthusiastically now. I don’t know the lyrics. My bad. It sounded like another track. I’ll return to the good old head nod’.
However, disregarding a couple of Mumford and Sons style repetitive habits, Jack has that brooding angst and floppy hair thing blended with a certain self-deprecation down to the ground, whilst the rest of his band (consisting of a flat-cap wearing tattooed double bass player, tweed jacketed Brazilian electric guitarist and exceedingly enthusiastic Irish drummer) shape the Savoretti package into an incredibly cool quartet that should be appreciated by all. If you are no longer interested in the saturated pre-fabricated sound of the X Factor, and fancy some easy listening to get you through rainy Durham days or escort you on your autumnal walk to the library, give Before The Storm a go.
One thing I feel is certain, the perfect juxtapositions of mellow tunes, up-beat 60s summer guitar riffs and haunting lyrics deserve recognition far and beyond singers such as Paolo Nutini: despite his superb ability to bag multiple plays on Radio 2 Savoretti is yet to receive the recognition he truly deserves. Maybe this third album, Before The Storm is the end of his musical lull, and he will begin to be placed alongside todays singer-songwriter ‘stars’ Mumford and Sons, Ed Sheeran and Ben Howard.