Kensington Blues

Music Review

21 Apr 2015
Jack Rose
Kensington Blues
VHF
Formats also available: CD
CD

I have long been a major fan of the late American guitarist John Fahey, a musician so unappreciated in his own lifetime that he died virtually penniless. I saw him only once and to be honest it was too late. So when I came across another musician who could play as well as Fahey, in fact sounds so similar as to be difficult to distinguish at times I was thrilled. Here at last was a good reason for the existence of Spotify. I was therefore deeply unimpressed to find that Jack Rose had failed to make it to his 37th birthday, what is it about great musicians, is it bad luck or does such a supreme ability to channel their feelings make them vulnerable.

The good thing about Rose is that he recorded in the present century and some of his work is still available on brand new vinyl, and it’s sensibley price. Kensington Blues from 2005 is delightfully packaged in a gatefold sleeve by VHF in Virginia and it sounds superb. Rose plays slide and picks steel string with a verve and intensity that breaks your heart, there are upbeat numbers but naturally its those informed by the blues that strike the deepest. Rose is very good at providing a rolling background to perfectly chosen melodic lines. It’s not a smooth sound, it’s too vibrant for that but it belies considerable technical skill that for once is allied to equally powerful expressive abilities. He has something to say and says it very eloquently, and despite a clear debt to Fahey Rose managed to build on his mentor’s work, to take his rarely mastered finger picking style forwards. Even if you don’t dig vinyl this is an essential release.

Jason Kennedy