It’s rather rare that anything other than a single release contains a culmination of expertise, a reflection of dedication to each song. So rich in detail, that the first thing those listening recognise is the certain lack of flaws. No comments of ‘oh, I wish it went to another chorus’, no ‘too cluttered’, nothing. However, with the release of his first four-track EP, ‘Synesthesiac’ this is exactly what Buckinghamshire electronic singer-songwriter Jack Garratt has accomplished. From the first to the last, each song could be a hit in it’s own right, with synth heavy ‘Chemical’ causing particular waves online and chosen as the leading single from the EP.
However, despite the instant-hit qualities that Chemical possesses, the main body of my attention is focused on slow-builder ‘The Love You’re Given’. A classic track that, given the time invested (a track length of exactly 5 minutes is a lot to ask of a social sprite) results in a huge payoff – a track destined for topping ‘Best of ’15’ charts, assuming Garratt reaches the audience he is deserving of. The song starts with a vocal sample (the voice of Lisa Fischer, lifted from 2013 music documentary film ’20 Feet from Stardom’) eerily reminiscent of the one that appears throughout Passion Pit’s ‘Sleepyhead’ and accompanies Garratt’s delicate vocals and select piano chords. Both are processed through a filter giving the impression of Garratt speaking to his lover from behind a closed door, a literal and metaphorical distance between them. Around a minute and a half in, the chorus suddenly takes precedence – it is arresting. The desperation has reached its pinnacle, and Garratt performs in a reverse Bon Iver manner. Where the innocence of Bon Iver came from his falsetto in the verses of ‘Skinny Love’, and his powerful full-voice outburst came in the chorus, ‘The Love You’re Given’ instead has it’s power in the emphasis placed in the low and high ends – the bass fills out every gap that is left that Garratt’s falsetto vocal doesn’t fill.
“I’ve been trying to give you my love but you won’t let me
You won’t let me.
I’ve been trying to give you some space but you won’t let me
You won’t let me.”
This is a man at the end of his tether, and instead of reacting in anger, it is the broken voice of defeat – the bass synth carries the aggression the song requires – Garratt knows his craft, and he executes it well. The final minute of the song is an all-out-guns-blazing, dictionary-definition climax, the unleashing of fury, resentment, of everything bottled up, (including Garratt’s vocals) – a finale of mountainous proportions, its grand peak in terms of music and emotion – the ultimate payoff.
The song is provided the justice it deserves in an exclusive Vevo performance that debuted in late December ’14, the first live performance of this particular track uploaded and one of only a few live performances of Garratt’s on YouTube. Given a listen on your headphones in the comfort of your own home, you’d be forgiven for believing that, assuming he was a multi-instrumentalist, Garratt recorded each instrument separately and when it came to live shows, he would either have to call in session musicians or have his laptop play a heavy part throughout. After all, this has become commonplace among many artists over the last couple of years – it allows greater scope for musical ingenuity without live performance suffering.
Surrounded by a drum pad and piano, he is the very definition of a one-man band. Complete with Fischer’s sample, live filtering and piano looping, Garratt glides his way through a 7 minute performance – this is well rehearsed magic at work, each beat deliberate, each section thoroughly considered. The energy is in abundance, the concentration and dedication is plentiful, the sheer talent (combined with a bit of sweat) drips from his fingertips.
Garratt proves he is a formidable solo force, and 2015 is surely destined to be a huge year for him. Catch him on his nationwide UK tour in May:
Wed 13 Exeter – Cavern
Sat 16 Oxford –O2 Academy 2
Mon 18 Birmingham – Hare and Hounds
Tue 19 Manchester – Academy 3
Wed 20 Nottingham – Rescue Rooms
Thu 21 Bristol – Thekla
Mon 25/26 London – Village Underground
Review by Connor Crabb