"Whereabouts Unknown" by Jack BlackmanReview
After his most impressive prolific run of form since the music scene was turned upon its head, from "Self Isolation Song" (which is also on ‘Hot Music Live Presents Volume Four') through "Empty Beretta", (in September), "Hard Place To Be" & "Ballad of Clopton House" (both in October) and "Straight Up Genius" (November), culminating in his Christmas single (as "Jack Blackman and the Beautiful Wreck"), the marvellous "I Wish It Was Summer (At Christmas Time)", it's hardly surprising if Jack Blackman has paused for breath (and he's been doing a lot of teaching too) at the start of the new year.
However he is back now with "Whereabouts Unknown" which comes out on February 19th. Written (as you'd expected) by Jack himself, it features him playing acoustic, electric, slide & bass guitars, percussion and keyboards as well singing and it was mixed by Joe Collier.
Quite apart from the innate qualities of each song in this sequence (and they are far from few), what is striking is the range of styles & themes within them: it simply isn't possible to pigeonhole his range of interests & areas of expertise, except possibly within the much broader category of "roots". It is this sense of authenticity which elevates what he writes & performs above the level of dazzling technical expertise (admirable as this is) to create genuine songs with real emotional connection, whether he is operating with folk, blues or even garage rock contexts as he has so recently.
"Whereabouts Unknown" in fact ventures into completely new sonic territory from its immediate predecessors & sits very much at the gentler & more vulnerable end of the spectrum of what Jack can offer the world. It demonstrates just what he can do with quieter tones & restrained playing and singing, creating impact through withholding the more jagged edges of his virtuosity & making our imaginations fill in the gaps for ourselves: thus giving us more of a stake in what the song is seeking to say. That's not to say that the track is timid nor lacking in power: it certainly possesses the rawness of spirit which characterises Jack's work: he just chooses to deploy his skills in a way which best serves what he writing about- in this case the loss of one's place in the world, which he pulls off in a most affecting manner.
As with "Ballad of Clopton House", this single has a beautiful stark and bleak video shot locally which can be seen here: https://youtu.be/J8OxCNtZJJQ