Jack Blackman, Nearly Man. Album Review.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 7.5/10

There are times when you are searching for your roots where it might become possible to miss the lush garden that has been carefully cultivated for you; like a life that has been packaged, presented and adorned, you focus on the rough edges because everything else just looks too neat. The wildness of existence becomes alluring and the energy expended becomes more of a thrill than would arguably be necessary. Looking for the whole rather than the Nearly Man is the persuasive answer.

Jack Blackman’s third full length album, Nearly Man, seeks out a different charismatic vibe in which to play out the lyrics of life, it is a steady pace, one of excitable tones, of animation and clear cut thought; it looks to both the lawn and the verges of humanity’s and his own garden and where there might be the understatement, the vivacity of the message slowly drawing to a close, there is at least honesty and desire to carry that song forward.

The human condition, what makes us tick as a species, what perhaps marks us out differently enough that we don’t live with our environment, that like Capability Brown we wish to dominate it, bend it to our will and shape it in our own image as if we were a god; so Nearly Man but never human or humane.

By performing the vast majority of the instruments himself, with the exception of Phil Snell on Bottle Tree Blues, that constant gardener, the nurturer of the flowering bud seeks solace in the reflective beauty on offer and in songs such as Travelling Light, She Don’t Know, Hognose Gin and the very superb Between The Cracks, that tender touch is gratifying and gentle enough to make the listener care deeply for the musician and the album.

It is not a criticism to be called a Nearly Man in the modern age, it implies a softness of spirit that counteracts the absurdity of post-Victorian, post World War Two thinking, that to be a man was everything, to show the soft and the yielding was too portray weakness; nothing could be further from the truth, the Nearly Man is a pretty powerful force.

Ian D. Hall