Review of Jay Jay Pistolet's EP 'Happy Birthday You' released through Stiff Records.
Central and east London has in recent times become a veritable Laurel Canyon of modern-day folk-pop scenesters. It seems you can't swing a melodica in Soho without hitting another budding bedroom bard. With the release of this debut EP, 21-year old Jay Jay Pistolet becomes the latest Jackson Browne to emerge from the resident coterie of Mitchells/Youngs/Crosbys that is Laura Marling, Emmy the Great, Johnny Flynn et al. Produced by Charlie Fink of Noah and the Whale fame, 'Happy Birthday You' is deeply rooted in this current collective sound and its condensed lyrical phrasing and layered instrumental arrangements echo unsurprisingly that of NATW's 'Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down'.
This is not necessarily a bad thing. Folk-pop has always been a small, tightly-knit community in which musical independence is difficult to procure. Besides, over the course of four songs Pistolet reveals sufficient threads of individuality to merit repeated listens. The title track is a Richard Hawley-esque sweeping skiffle that, despite carrying the increasingly overused muted, mariachi trumpet, is jaunty in a choral, fireside sort of way. More interesting are 'Bags of Gold' and 'Hooked Up On Us'- the former straight out of the Lou Reed school of hushed vocals upon driving a rhythm and the latter a slow, sweet lament upon a reverbed Paul Simon-style fingerpick. Each song is bathed in warm romantic tones and Pistolet plays the role of the lovelorn troubadour with aplomb. All said, it's enough for the man to take his place in the ever-growing folk-pop fraternity. Time will tell how high he rises. Now, what about the live show?