Jack Penate – Everything Is New (XL Recordings)
The title is bullshit: this is straight up UK pop that would fit snuggly in between your ABC and Paul Young singles, albeit with a less refined take on pale white soul. But give the boy a little time—he was just a gleam in his dad’s eye when Young’s No Parlez was released—and give him a few more records to fill out his collection, because Jack Penate is eating up influences like Andy Clark ate a shitload of sandwiches for lunch in The Breakfast Club.
Everything Is New is Penate’s second effort, and he is already taking listeners to places that even he has never explored. Sounds of Cuba, Brazil, Nigeria, as well as regions of the U.S. are visited within the nine tracks, and don’t believe for a minute that this youngster went into these sessions with such a worldview in mind. If anything, credit this travel itinerary to producer Paul Epworth.
But Penate does manage to take each musical postcard and weave his sensitive heart around each new beat, texture, and culture. Jack Penate may not have been the inspiration for this new direction, but it’s clear that he was inspired by it.
What’s even more impressive is the place Penate was at just two years ago. The debut Matinee was roundly crucified for its Housemartins-lite reprise singles and endless videos, which always seemed to find Jack running after lost loves and pledge devotion to fictitious women.
Women and relationships still seem to be the focus of Penate’s lyrics and you begin to wonder why all of these simple professions of love are dressed up with passport stamps.
Instead, all of this world-pop fuss is merely about the heartache and pathos of one young white boy who’s found out what it’s like to lose their cherry to the British music press.
Ironically, Everything Is New is just as nostalgic as its predecessor, but the difference is how comfortable Penate sounds in this new direction and how authentic Paul Epworth makes him sound in it. The album may offer him a reprieve from the vitriolic press but it’s also good enough that it should offer more attention for changing course towards a challenging new direction.
MP3: Jack Peñate – “Tonight’s Today”
Video: Jack Peñate – “Tonight’s Today”
Video: Jack Peñate – “Be The One”