Mr Jukes emerged in early 2017 as a newcomer to the jazz and soul scene. Mr Jukes is the moniker for Jack Steadman, ex-front man of Bombay Bicycle Club. The album comes from a time after Steadman had travelled throughout 2015, both to get some head space and to create what would be God First. What started as a bedroom project, that began life in a cabin between Shanghai and Canada, became a totally different beast featuring collaborations that are just as high profile as they are surprising.
Opening track ‘Typhoon’ is perhaps when the maritime adventures are most prominent in the album. It’s a mellow place to start but it sets the scene for biggest tracks to grow out of it. Next comes ‘Angels/Your Love’ which has a far richer tapestry of sounds within it. The first half ‘Angels’ features a ghostly children’s choir paired with some undeniably well paired sax sampled from Jorge Lopez Ruiz. The second half begins stripped down before building itself back up to feature BJ The Chicago Kid.
‘Ruby’ sees Steadman take the lead vocal as often on God First he allows himself to take a backseat among the guests and group vocals. Ultimately, he sounds a little out of place among the more soulful voices in the chorus, his voice still standing out so he may as well take the reins of the vocals fully to craft around his own tones.
‘Grant Green’ is beyond doubt the track to take away from God First. From it’s opening bars it bursts with life, the layers of sound having been intricately weaved in a patchwork of soul. The song is lively in a way that celebrates Charles Bradley’s voice but doesn’t feel old just rather refreshing instead. ‘Leap of Faith’ is once again a patchwork of soul, albeit one with a heavy funk thread count, De La Soul may not look like a perfect fit when glancing over the track listing but this here is a classic example of not judging a book by its cover.
Steadman is once again at the helm of ‘Magic’ which is far more understated and downtempo from ‘From Golden Stars Comes Silver Dew’. The track is hollow featuring just Steadman’s vocals and a synth that builds into a richer, fuller bodied sound in the chorus. ‘When Your Light Goes Out’ you’ll be glad to know has nothing to do with Morrissey and Co, but instead is a cinematic track drenched in the smooth, undeniably warm vocals of Lianne La Havas, creating a wonderfully retro feel when twinned with Steadman.
God First proves why Jack Steadman has chosen to adopt a new moniker as he did with Bombay Bicycle Club, rather than going by his own name. It’s because this is merely one facet of his ability and to associate it with himself would be limit future possibilities in the same way Damon Albarn has adopted many monikers over the years. Mr Jukes proves Steadman is not a one trick pony.
Give God First a listen here.