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Design By Humans
Published On: Mon, Dec 7th, 2015

Joe Jackson: Fast Forward

jj ffJoe Jackson
Fast Forward
(Work Song, Inc.)

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Joe Jackson’s Fast Forward is a 4-city, piano-led, mature look at life from this singular songwriter. Jackson’s 13th studio album was originally conceived as four separate recording endeavors to showcase the musicians and cities in which he recorded specific songs (New York, Amsterdam, Berlin and New Orleans), but he combined the entire concept and here we get this thick, 16-track set. The mid-tempo title track opens (the first four songs are the New York section) and is a rumination of life. Jackson’s voice here and some wonderful violin work from Regina Carter are featured. Jackson also gives us a run-through of Tom Verlaine’s “See No Evil” (long-time Jackson bassist Graham Maby is on fire here) and a rich vocal harmony of the equally richly layered “King of the City.” The running, simple beat of “A Little Smile” begins the Amsterdam section with its leading synth strings and heavy, dramatic chorus. It’s a super-produced tune and the flick-a-flicky xylophone-backed “So You Say” sneaks in after it. “The Blue Time” is a sweeping piano ballad in the Berlin section featuring the most expressive Jackson singing here, a sweet melody and a bugle part that will bring you to tears; it’s another great, great song. “Neon Rain” is an organ-heavy rocker in the New Orleans section. With call-and-response vocals and single-note guitar riffing, it’s the heaviest tune here for sure. Stanton Moor’s thrumming tom work here is fantastic; it sounds like old time punk Joe Jackson. The sexy, funky vocal duet,  “Satellite,” pops long with Donald Harrison’s sax lines and the laid back cool snare of Moor. “Keep On Dreaming” is a piano and Jeff Rains’ guitar-led song about the nature of God – a very tricky, satiric lyric in a poppy tune. As he has often, Jackson has a full percussion bed filling out the ender, “Ode to Joy.” Robert Mercurio’s bass is simple, but keeps things together around Jackson’s light piano touches and Stanton Moor’s increasing pace. A composer of Jackson’s talent simply cannot be ignored. There is just so much to like on Fast Forward.

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Joe Jackson: Fast Forward