Months ago I was invited to the Diggins residence in Scorton to watch Jay and the band perform a few songs. I had a great time and left with a sense that this unique act meant business. That night has stayed with me, and I’ve watched the band grow, head out on tour, perform at festivals, pubs, solo shows, and then their hugely successful album launch at The Grand Theatre last month.
Jay compered the night, introducing the band (who also make up extremely talented three piece Lancaster act Greenheart), and other performers, before taking to the stage himself.
A lover as well as a purveyor of music, Jay has bucketloads of quiet confidence coupled with the technical knowledge of a producer, and the outlook of a musician. He also has very good contacts, leading John Parish to feature on and co-produce his debut album Searching.
At just 30 minutes long, it just about accompanies me on the journey to work, but this piece is more suited to an evening at home in front of a log fire with a bottle of wine, or stretched out in a field on a sunny Sunday afternoon, or cruising down a desert road somewhere in Arizona.
It’s dark at times, and earthy. and builds from the start, each song allows a glimpse into a rugged, contemplating landscape of thought, layers of vocals joining with creative and original drum parts to create a sound that is in part folk, in part rock n roll.
Jay’s voice, used sparingly on a lot of the tracks, comes across quite fragile at times, almost becoming one of the instruments, and repetition is used to good effect.
It subtly rocks, and there’s a lot of meat to it, I was still picking its bones on the fifth listen. Stand out tracks for me are Ain’t No, and Heela, which makes you want to turn it up, but which ends suddenly leaving you wanting more.
Aside from one track that is performed by the whole band, and Parish’s contribution, vocals, drums, guitars, bass and harmonica all come from Jay, the analogue sound of it is also a personal insistence.
It is an album greater than the sum of its parts, a rare find these days, and it’s perhaps a shame that some of the tracks didn’t last longer. My only other gripe is the whistling on the first track, which I felt just wasn’t needed.
Either way it is an accomplished piece of work, with a lot of depth and high production value, the drums, for me, standing out in particular.
It’s well worth getting to know this record, and I’m looking forward to hearing more from Jay Diggins. Searching is available on CD for £6.99 from www.jaydiggins.com.
By Nick Lakin