Winner of the 2016 Critic’s Choice Award at the BRITs, Jack Garratt is sure to have a breakthrough year similar to that of previous winners such as James Bay and Emeli Sandé. His debut album, Phase, was released on February 19th and has been described as “unrequited love mixed with dubstep” which would provide a sound that nobody has heard before. Could it spell the beginning of a long and successful career for the High Wycombe singer?
Coalesce (Synesthesia Pt. II)- 8.5/10
A seemingly mellow beginning to the album, that is until a monumental bass switch changes the whole complexity of the track. This explosion of sound is led wonderfully by Garratt’s moving vocal. This is sure to amaze those who expect a typical solo singer/songwriter album. A colossal beginning to the album and just a small dose of what to expect.
Breathe Life- 9/10
Lead single released from the album and you can see why. Reached number one in the charts for a reason. This electronic love story provides a magnificent variety of sounds, like Ed Sheeran and Disclosure’s love child. It’s a great track with catchy and heart-warming lyrics, making it a chart hit.
Far Cry- 8/10
A soulful piano smoothly mixed into a fast paced techno pop before cutting back to a piano. It really is impossible to keep up with the transition of sound throughout this track but they work very well regardless. Garratt’s vocal range is also highlighted by a large number of high notes being hit. Lyrically it’s a nice song as he wants to show his love to a girl and needs her to bring out the best in him as a person. It’s an infectious track, but that’s like the whole album really so that’s not really a surprise.
With a similar style to that of Imagine Dragons or AWOLNATION, this underground sound mixed with negative lyrics about growing old gives a darker tone than we are used to from the other tracks in the album. The song does pick up, however as the beat goes hand in hand with the lyrics, as the lyrics become positive about the girl he loves, the beat becomes more uplifting. The song eventually smooths into something quite beautiful by the end with backing vocals on the track being reminiscent of a gospel choir which again links to the lyrics in which he discusses death. One word, brilliant.
For me, this is the best song on the album. It’s a break up song showing how he has to pick the pieces of a broken relationship up all on his own. He has to “pick apart the pieces you’ve left” telling his former love “don’t you worry about it” almost in a sarcastic and aggressive manner. Bass heavy chorus again with a high key vocal that works absolute wonders on this track. Not much more I can say about this track other than it is borderline perfection for his style and genre that he appears to have invented.
The Love You’re Given- 7/10
A melodic beginning that plays a soft instrumental to twin Garratt’s light vocals. The combination of the electric drum set and piano again works wonders as they provide a fantastic contrast in musical styles from generation to generation. This soft beat doesn’t stay forever, though as the track slowly intensifies and more instruments are added. By the end the song becomes more of a club track, with a strong bass that almost drowns out Garratt’s vocals, thus making his voice more of a backing instrument. It is a decent track but in comparison to the rest of the album it is quite weak. Despite this that is hardly a grudge on the song itself because the standards of this album are incredibly high.
I Know All What I Do- 7/10
This song allows Garratt to show off his impressive vocal range as once again instruments individually add to the track as the backing track builds slowly. Once all of these instruments are added the vocals become echoed by the volume of the backing track and the dubstep focus of his style takes a forefront. There isn’t a lot to say about this song, it can’t be described as one of the more memorable ones off the album but it is a strong vocal performance.
Surprise Yourself- 8/10
Garratt provides a soulful voice alongside a strong beat in this song. The chorus picks up the pace of the track despite not having notable lyrics and just having a continual note being sung. It’s an uplifting song with a positive message of quality of life, a brilliant addition that will please many listeners.
A clapping beat to begin the first verse gets completely blown away by an unexpected beat drop as the song transforms into a rejuvinated house track. The instrumental holds an unorthodox sound that compliments his voice magnificently. The clapping is seen as a build up towards the drop which is memorable and makes this song one of the best on the whole album.
Fire by name and nature for this song, as the connotations are highlighted throughout (“erupt, flames, burn”). Another love song where he appears to struggle with the brash and exuberant character of the woman he loves. A wonderful drum and bass sound is created in the second verse after a short and snappy chorus which provides yet another dimension to an already immensely complex song. I didn’t think it would be possible for this many sounds to work on the same song but somehow Garratt pulls it off and makes it a truly fantastic track.
Synesthesia Pt. III- 7.5/10
The vocal of the first track is sampled here too but with a different beat added to it; a beat full of energy and bass. The whole track feels like a bit of a mess, almost as if he turned every instrument up to full volume at once and pressed record. In the grand scheme of the album it does somehow work well, however.
My House Is Your Home- 8.5/10
This live studio recording of a soulful piano track works wonders to end the album by showing his raw talent. The beauty and power of his vocals are fully on display here as he bleeds his heart out to a girl clearly in need of someone to be there. The passionate piano solo played through the bridge of the song is passionate, a real throwback to how music used to be in the days of Elton John, Stevie Wonder and Billy Joel. Just a man and his piano. The result is magical and a truly fitting end to a brilliant album.
This album is the most original piece of music I’ve heard in a very long time. The ability to just mix two completely different genres like that and make it work the way he has already makes Jack Garratt one of the big names in music currently. From track to track his ability to spice things up and add new elements to his music arsenal is unbridled, it gives him the power to go in literally any musical direction he pleases with large success. For me it is the best album of the year so far, just surpassing Kanye West’s The Life Of Pablo based on pure originality. Keep your eye out for Jack Garratt, he is about to have a colossal 2016.