In his own words, Canadian Andrew Jackson has ‘made a lifestyle of living on the edge’. It could be said, however, that “Feral Familiar” only sits on the edge of the fence. Or it could be that this is a young singer/songwriter simply trying to find his musical feet and exploring his influences.
And there are plenty of influences to be found in this work, which encompasses everything from old-school, upbeat rock to a bluesy, almost grungy sound. Perhaps Jackson’s even been influenced by the incredible diversity of his home city – Toronto. Like Toronto, the album is nothing if not open-minded.
Tracks like ‘Enough Blood To Keep ‘Em Coming’ are reminiscent of the almost disinterested vocals of Beck or The Strokes’ Julian Casablancas. You can also hear strong echoes of Raconteurs-esque Americana, especially in ‘Another Day of Misery’ and ‘Mother Nature’, which combine solid guitar work with an impressive vocal range.
Lyrics-wise, he’s not doing anything revolutionary. While he doesn’t quite invoke the spirit of i, he does touch on themes of social awareness, freedom and even politics.
For the most part though, he sticks to delivering familiar tales of love in a catchy way. The Black Keys have recently shown that this can bring considerable commercial success, although Jackson will be hoping he doesn’t need quite as much patience as they’ve needed.
His willingness to experiment is admirable, particularly in his first offering. The psychedelic instrumental, ‘Tragedy & Hope’ (track 7), for example, speaks of an album becoming more sure of itself. However, it might have been considered braver if he’d stuck his neck out and placed his bets on one sound.
While the album takes a little while to get going, it’s certainly a grower. The same might be true of Jackson himself. It’ll certainly be interesting to see what he does next.