Jake Morley, Monto Water Rats, London, 5/12/08

5 stars (out of 5)


Jake MorleyNorth London’s Jake Morley has had an unbelievable year and while it is only a year since he decided to throw his guitar onto his lap and put his inventiveness into sixth gear; his performance has come a long way. Building upon his style since first playing in school assemblies, and then gigs in Nottingham to support his Law degree, he is now topping the bill at some of London’s most treasured venues.

As the setup is problematic and wires are changed and tweaked, the slot seems intentionally stalled to keep the audience waiting in anticipation; the reddened ambience and smoky 60’s-esque feel of the Water Rats only heightens the delayed experience. Fifteen minutes pass yet Morley is not frustrated -while touching his head in false anguish, he raises an eyebrow, releases an entertaining chuckle and a deliberate sly grin. At long last, Morley is equipped; he asks the audience to take a seat. “I am Moses”, he instructs cheekily as it is recognized that he might be about to part the seas.

Morley opens with amorous finger-picking that induces a tranquil vibe. ‘Even Street’ silences the spectator and lures them into an artificial sense of sanctuary- he is not just another acoustic strummer. As the dreamy verse meets the chorus, the ruthless guitar smashing begins; slides mix with muted harmonics whereas the soulful vocal becomes even more passionate.

“It’s a night of new things and trying things differently” as ‘Ferris Wheel’ proves. Although the track is usually loosely Latin in sound, Morley demonstrates his adaptability in genre with the introduction of additional Cuban rhythms, jazz techniques and further bluesy patterns. Instrumentally resonant of The Streets in a more classical format, a lyrically and vocally philosophical version of James Morrison is offered.

Surely this guy can’t get any better? With the introduction of a Cellist and Violinist, he certainly can. As Morley says he has been “looking forward to playing this next one for about two months”, the listener cops an enchanting earful of a freshly Gaelic intro to ‘Inside my mind’. A personal favourite, where the action-packed guitar-pounding excitement is switched for a subtle sadness, it has all the usual features of a love song with added repercussions of Josh Groban’s ‘You raise me up’- obviously without the predictability. The track reaches new depths and launches an undoubted orchestral class.

The stringed accompaniment remains and ‘Now you’re here’, a brand new track pleasantly saturated with Arabian beats and Middle Eastern delights prevails. It consciously keeps the Celtic attitude at the forefront and successfully achieves a sanguine tone. As his accompaniment disembarks, Morley and his comrades receive a standing ovation.

Closing with ‘I saw something’, to reinforce his aptitude for diversity, Morley plunges into a jolly indie track. With lyrics such as “maybe the cider counts towards my five a day”, he beckons a youthful merriment. With his converse-tapping ‘dum-de-dum’, he pulls one more trick out of the bag- a stylophone. By adding comedic virtues, he proves that there is no end to his talent.

“I’ll see you next year”, he proudly instructs as he waves his audience farewell. His plans for a Jake Morley Band in the coming months can only fill us with hope as well as his intended debut album.

Jake Morley bashes the breath out of his guitar. His string picking, flicking, bruising and mashing blended with charisma, poise and dynamism keeps any onlooker transfixed- this is the common theory. While achieving this, Morley has now leapt ahead of himself on the virtuoso checklist by creating a classical yet modern luxury; variable but original in genre, tone and idea.

Visit www.myspace.com/jakemorley

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