Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be particularly different, ground-breaking, controversial or experimental to get noticed in the music industry. You just have to be good. Very, very good. (A concept so simple yet so overlooked by many bands and artists trying to stand out from the crowd.) Fads, fashion and fusion come and go; good music endures. So why make flash-in-the-pan music through the use of gimmicks and cheap sonic shots when you can make music that becomes part of the global musical canon? Music which, given enough time, a fair wind and a gentle tickle from the hand of fate, might one day be regarded as classic.
Stephen Jacques is someone well aware of this, and whether he is found firing off jagged salvos from his low-slung electric or, as he does here, opts for a more sedate, singer-songwriter acoustic vibe, his music is built to last.
The Steve Albini engineered Dreams On Fire sees him in troubadourish mode, voice and acoustic rhythms front and centre, the rest of the band merely adding the deft and delicate sonic touches of a seasoned bunch of musicians, serving the song perfectly, drifting lap steel guitars and understated beats adding just enough structure, tone and texture to lift the song out of busker mode.
And I guess my point is that, to a degree, we have heard most musical forms before, the ones worth a regular revisit anyway, and so artists as smart as Stephen understand that rather than shake things up, it is enough to stay within the existing formats and just write damn good songs, songs that blend freshness and familiarity, songs that are both reminiscent of something in our past and also pushing forward into a bright new future. Future classics in the making, perhaps.
And that is precisely what we have here.
Stephen jacques dreams on fire