Jake Aaron – Fag Ash and Beer

Album Review | Self Release | Review by Allan Wilkinson | Stars: 3/5

The opening instrumental on Jake Aaron’s debut album came as something of a surprise, not just because of its title “Elvis Has Left the Building”, but because I didn’t expect such a jazzy Jimmy Smith-styled groove as an opener to an album entitled Fag Ash and Beer. Even though the cover Polaroid perfectly explains the album title, it still betrays the music within. Steve Lodder’s organ sound is straight out of a late Sixties exploitation movie and is surprisingly, just about the only thing like it on the album. The title song that follows immediately afterwards, brings us around to something more like what I expected, something more kitchen sink, with Jake Aaron’s crystal clear acoustic guitar very much to the fore and with an almost spoken vocal, together with a barking dog; this is no ordinary record. 

There’s one or two shorter musical interludes between the songs, “For B”, “Allegro”, “Also” and “Late Night Radio”, all of which brings character to the album as a whole, rather than just serving as fillers. “Genevieve Alright” is reminiscent of Seventies Kevin Ayers, whilst “Morning Town” has the jangly resonance of the Byrds’ “Chestnut Mare.” Aaron’s own nod to all things equine, comes at the end with the extended instrumental “Give Me Your Horse”, which features the two Steves, Waterman on trumpet, sparring effortlessly with Lodder’s swirling organ. It’s a mixed bag as Aaron rightly points out, “like rummaging through an antique market.”