Introducing Jake Flowers
BBC Shropshire profiles local singer-songwriter Jake Flowers, whose charismatic performances and enticing tunes are winning him fans and airplay across the UK.
Cleobury Mortimer might seem a strange place from which to launch an assault on the UK music scene, but for South Shropshire singer-songwriter Jake Flowers rural life has provided the inspiration for much of his music. And arcadian semi-seclusion doesn't seem to have hampered his ability to woo a famously impregnable industry.
Jake's sound is rooted in a blend of folk/acoustic/rock and it's easy to hear influences like Cat Stevens, Bert Jansch, and Nick Drake. His performances have also been compared to early Mick Jagger, as well as Jack White... and the latter particularly rings true. On his website, Jake describes his sound as "Cat Stevens on a country retreat with Paul McCartney and Jack White - occasionally they sneak into the barn to play twister..." and somehow it seems spot on.
Over the years Jake has performed acoustically on his own; plugged-up as one half of the Jake Flowers Scandal; and recently backed by the impressive Carol-Anne Showband. The full band scenario gives his songs a driving, plugged-up and full-on sound. But there's also much to cherish in the rawness of Jake armed only with an acoustic guitar - a sound that perhaps better exposes the simple beauty of his songs and masterful playing.
Speaking on BBC Radio Shropshire's Friday Night Gerbil show, Jake summed up his approach: "I'm trying to strip things down a bit and keep it very simple, but I still want something special in there."
In March Jake played probably the biggest gig of his life, playing his single Anyhow to a half-time crowd of over 24,000 at the Molineux stadium as Wolverhampton Wanderers took on Queen's Park Rangers. One of the highlights of 2007 was a collaboration with around 30 members of the English Symphony Orchestra at the West Midlands Summer Symphony.
As if that isn't enough, he's toured the UK, played some of the country's most prestigious venues and performed on the same bills as The Sunshine Underground, Tiny Dancers, and Mojave 3. Jake has also spent time in the studio with Gavin Monaghan, whose CV includes the likes of the Editors, Kings of Leon and The Smiths. He's also enjoyed airplay on radio stations across the UK.
Jake's latest coup is securing a spot on the Late N Live stage at the 2008 Glastonbury Festival - which last year featured the likes of Scouting For Girls and The Courteeners.
Whether it's stubbing out a cigarette, laying a pint to one side and offering up an impromptu acoustic performance in a beer garden, or being backed by a symphony orchestra, Jake and his songs always seem to stand up to the treatment.
Hearing Jake perform on his own also has the advantage of showing off his tasty guitar-playing - listen out for his finger-work on songs like Sticks and Stones, My Siren, Anyhow or One Summer Gone. With guitar in hand Jake manages to extract a depth of sound that matches his lyrics, and complements a fragile but passionate voice - with phrasing that will have you have you hanging on every word.
Jake Flowers is definitely a performer, with a striking voice; but when he started playing nothing was more important than the songwriting: "I picked up the guitar probably when I was 13 or 14, but it was less music, more writing... rather than learning other people's songs I sort of straight away started writing."
Jake's songs include the incredibly catchy Anyhow, intense Stalker, passionate yet chilling Annabel, cheeky Dirty Little Song, the beautiful Sticks and Stones with its clever change in time signature (and narrative of growing up in the countryside).
The Great Shropshire Fireworks Robbery (usually shortened to Fireworks) is based on the true story of a theft of firework in Ditton Priors, although "romanticised a bit". In the song the "lost spark" from a couple's relationship igniting a lorry-load of fireworks.
You can catch Jake most Monday nights at the Fighting Cocks pub in Stottesdon, at the Sustenance and Song open mic night.
For more information on Jake Flowers, music and forthcoming gigs, check out his website.
last updated: 30/04/2008 at 16:37
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