Mr Jukes – God First
Jack Steadman has spent the best part of his adolescence as the lead singer of hyped British indie-folk group Bombay Bicycle Club. With that band now on hiatus, he’s taken the opportunity to diversify his sound and emerge as Mr Jukes, a modern soul producer with a list of fantastic friends.
God First shows off both Steadman’s keen production ear and the talents of some of the best, and most diverse, soul voices around.
‘Typhoon’ is an intriguing beginning. It takes a while to get going but eventually unfolds into a smooth and slinky trip hop jam with a faux-traditional folk melody. It’s a bizarre but oddly beautiful song.
There’s nothing bizarre about the breezy groove and the sweet vocals of BJ The Chicago Kid that make ‘Angels / Your Love’ an instantly appealing piece of modern soul. Elli Ingram’s voice is equally appealing on ‘Somebody New’, but it’s the deep synth bass in the chorus that stands out most.
Charles Bradley’s unmistakable voice brings a huge sense of joy to ‘Grant Green’, Horace Andy does much the same to ‘Leap Of Faith’, which also has the great De La Soul pushing it along with a typically clever, laidback and frankly incomparable rhymes.
The elegant ‘Tears’ takes the record in a more typical pop direction, before Lianne La Havas helps Steadman take the record home with the joyous and playful ‘When Your Light Goes Out’.
While the diversity of voices does keep things interesting, the not-so-pleasant flipside of having so many different vocalists is that the album loses its cohesion. As you get towards the end of the record, this feels more like a mixtape than an album. As a collection of songs, it’s an impressive piece of work. As a collected work, it falls a little flat.
On its surface, God First is immediately appealing. Steadman has used every bit of his pop nous and love for soul music to craft a record full of songs that would stand tall on their own. And perhaps that’s the best way to enjoy it; pick your favourites, throw them in your playlist and revel in them as bitesize snippets.