Shane Jackman
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Shane Jackman

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"Equilibrium Review"

A new name to me, but not, perhaps to readers in the U.S., Jackman has spent the last five years relentlessly touring and building up a formidable reputation along the way. The Equilibrium of the title refers to Jackman's decision to curtail his nomadic lifestyle and spend the majority of his time at home in his native Utah with his wife and two children. This desire for "homeliness" has extended into the actual recording of this CD. Instead of decamping to the nearest high-tech recording studio, Jackman went about his work in the old house of John Hancock (who plays accordion, keyboards, percussion and electric guitar). The recording room in the house had only four inputs, so Jackman and his friends (who include acoustic guitarist Michael Lille and singer Kristen DeWitt) worked in a very "live" and "organic" way to create this CD. In the accompanying booklet Jackman notes that "this is how the music sounds in John's living room -- yours too."

"How the music sounds" is very good indeed. The acoustic instruments (guitars, accordion, Dobro, mandolin, bass, etc.) sound precisely that, with the guitars resonating across their full tonal and dynamic range. The keyboards, drums and electrics are mixed to optimum effect -- that's to say that they do what they're supposed to without overpowering the otherwise "natural" textures that underlie these songs.

The songs? Oh, they're also very good indeed; this writer has channeled all of his hard-gained experience into refining his ability to write some real beauties. He's obviously got a real "eye" and "ear" for the details of everyday life that he manages to convey with intelligence, compassion and humour. "The Angle of Repose" is a good example. This song concerns a married couple faced with the realities of growing old together after their children have grown up and left home. "They say I love you every night but they touch so seldom anymore; from when the kids were young and restless, they're still afraid to close the door." A sparse, melodic and believable performance, which never descends into mawkishness.

"Uncommon Eloquence" reveals Jackman's literary streak, along with his clever sense of humour. Here, he takes the old saying about "reading a person like a book" to new extremes with "I want to read you like some long romantic mystery, like some lost American prose." During this song the singer declares "yes, I am a lover of words," and then proves it with lines like "with just a look you say things even Dante never dreamt." Elsewhere, "Set Fire to the City" is a song that stakes a claim for Jackman as "the Dougie MacLean of Americana." It's full of an aching sense of loss of "place," carried by an unhurried, irresistible rhythm that still swings rather than plods. This guy's good...

It's almost compulsory for singer-songwriters to include a "since you've been gone" song, and "Cornflakes for Supper" does the job here. Unlike the efforts of many, however, this isn't some one-dimensional wallow in self-pity. It's a neatly constructed, concise piece of work that suggests the work of an older and wiser man looking back at how he was, rather than someone crying over a recent wound. Instead of banging on about how awful he feels, he assures the listener that he's doing fine as he's got "cornflakes for supper... Leno for conversation and pizza for breakfast."

"Didn't I" exposes some of the emotions of those years of touring, while "Moonsong" is about fatherhood. It's a beautiful performance and (that word again) believable.

Equilibrium is a fine example of the way to work in this musical genre. The fact that it comprises a total of ten songs feels exactly right. (This may be a psychological "throwback" peculiar to those of us who grew up in the age of vinyl L.P's. Ten songs = our attention span.) The actual recording conveys a rare intimacy that puts Jackman's voice straight at the forefront of the listener's consciousness, and the standard of instrumental performancethroughout is exceptional. Then, of course, there's the matter of these songs themselves, which are as satisfying musically as they are lyrically.

I'd be very surprised if someone didn't suggest to Shane Jackman that he use "uncommon eloquence" as the title for this CD. He's probably too modest to have considered the idea... but he'd have been perfectly justified.

- Rambles Magazine - England


"Shane Jackman Review"

Perhaps it seems that being a popular artist these days requires a contempt for everyone, but Shane Jackman doesn't buy that. After all, there's still plenty to talk about when your soul is at peace. This guitarist/vocalist brings unique images with his lyrical poetry. His messages are undiluted by rhyme schemes and undaunted by style guides. The first track, "Love You Like the Rain," tells the journey of an evolved friendship by stretching out the words and filling them with detailed imagery. Probably the most entertaining tune is "Cornflakes for Supper," a tale of the independence that follows a breakup. Other verses mention "Leno for conversation" and "pizza for breakfast," hailing the joys of bachelorhood. Some may find that the album never really gets going. It is laid-back and personal, but there are no upbeat, rock-style anthems. The closest thing to a steady beat can be found in "Uncommon Eloquence" and "Didn't I." The album describes visions and dreams of one who traded in heavy touring schedules for family time and a local record contract. Ultimately, he seems satisfied with how life balances out. ~ Jared Johnson, All Music Guide - All Music Guide


"Music Picks"

Jackman's album is a collection of intricately written and performed songs of the high country. Recorded in Utah and New York City, these are songs to be envisioned and tasted and felt, and the only thing better than this CD would be Jackman and his friends sitting around your campfire. He has an engaging voice and a fluid guitar style and is backed by a cast of musicians that includes fellow songwriters Michael Lille, David Massengill, and Cosy Sheridan. - Acoustic Guitar Magazine


"Praise for Shane Jackman"

“The real soul of America...His music will haunt you because it is poetry and his image is shaped by that poetry...Image shaped by poetry is priceless.” - Michael Martin Murphy


"Rhythm of the Land Review"

“A pure delight...Jackman has no problem distinguishing himself as one of the better entities of the singer-songwriter world.” - Gavin Radio Report


"Concert Review"

“The best folk singers are storytellers, and Jackman’s no exception... As powerful as the words were, the music was equally captivating... Eloquence on this level is uncommon indeed…No one wanted to let it go.” - Deseret News


"Sanctuary Review"

“An incredible artist, an incredible album.” - Music World


"Album Review"

“I’d be very surprised if someone didn’t suggest to Shane Jackman that he use “Uncommon Eloquence” as the title for this CD. He’s probably too modest to have considered the idea, but he’d have been perfectly justified.” - Green Man Review


"Sanctuary Album Review"

As a new Shane Jackman listener, I didn’t quite know what to expect from his latest album, ’’Sanctuary.’’ What I found was good music combined with even better lyrics. Every song, rich with acoustic guitar and Shane’s easy-to-listen-to voice, was filled with lyrics whose depth doesn’t sink in until they’ve been listened to more than once. The album itself is a broad mix of musical sounds, tied together by the unifying voice of Shane’s guitar and the perspective that only comes from one who obviously lives life with passion and interest. Each song on the album brings its own flavor, from love to simple storytelling. The more I listen to this album, the more I find hidden truths laced within the lyrics – and the more I find myself singing the songs. Honestly, for the past three days I’ve been singing the title track almost constantly! It’s a great album from every angle and I recommend it whole-heartedly! - MouthShut.com


"On The Porch With Shane Jackman"

It's a small crowd, probably not more than fifty, who have gathered in Provo, Utah to hear a small group of songwriters strum their guitars and tell their tales. Up on the stage are three performers, each seated on a stool and each with a guitar slung over his shoulder, carefully tuning his instrument. The one with the harmonica takes the mic and with a warm smile welcomes the audience.
Meet Shane Jackman. The accomplished songwriter plays host of the monthly gathering of Utah songwriters called Songwriters in the Round. He introduces his first song as "What I did on My Summer Vacation" and begins to strum an infectious melody.
And then we'd drive all night / Watch the raindrops scatter in the headlights / and you'd smile so bright / with your face lit up by the dash light / It was a paperback adventure / You were Annie Oakley and I was Jesse James / And I will love you like the rain
It's hard not to like Jackman and his music in this kind of a setting. He is in his element. The intimate crowd, the friendly banter between the performers on stage and the honesty of the songwriting all have a quality that makes you feel like you're really just sitting in a good friend's living room, sharing feelings, stories and ideas.
ON THE ROAD
That kind of ease in front of an audience came to Jackman during his years on the road. But as he relates, it came at a price.
"Back in the early 90's I decided that if I was going to make it as a songwriter, I needed to be on the East Coast. And so Linda and I sold our house, packed everything we owned into our VW bus and headed for the East with our little baby girl. I can't imagine what our parents must have been thinking.
"We made it to Massachusetts, where I got a job tending polo ponies. We stayed in an apartment above the barn. I'd ride horses all day then sit in the hayloft and write songs, then head off to open-mic nights on weekends.
"I stumbled onto a degree of success, and started touring quite a bit. I was working with some great people." (Shawn Colvin, Michael Martin Murphy, Pete Segar and Howard Jones to name a few). "They were good years, and I learned a lot, both about the music business and about myself.
"Life on the road can be exciting. But it's not nearly as meaningful or poignant as people think. What's meaningful is in the back yard. I'd be driving along somewhere and see a family sitting down to supper, and it would rip my heart out because that's where I wanted to be.
"We left Massachusetts on a tour that lasted the better part of a year. While we were on the road, I continued to book more shows, and realized that we could keep booking from Utah or anywhere else. We ended that tour in Utah and stayed where we could be with family and friends.
"Soon afterwards, my daughter started school, making it difficult to tour as a family anymore. I spent a few more years touring the country alone in tours of 3 or so months at a time. After 'Rhythm of the Land' charted on Americana radio, the tours got intense. The pressure mounted to sell more records and more concerts tickets. I think I passed that pressure on to the home front over the phone. Linda was so patient with me.
"After a while, I began to look like some kind of clown to myself, running all over creation trying to be some kind of star. I'd look at some of the people around me, some of them getting quite good at the fame game, and all I could see were big red plastic noses and squeaky shoes. When the promotion of that album finished, I decided to set my boots on the porch, and try to shape my family life into some kind of normalcy."
FINDING BALANCE
Back in Provo at the Songwriters in the Round concert, Jackman has turned the stage over to one of the other performers. He's just finished another song from his latest album, called Equilibrium. The song reflects the theme of that whole album, rich with meaning about the bittersweet joys he'd experienced on the road, and the relief he felt at leaving it all behind.
Young man jumps on stage with his guitar cocked like a pistol / He fires anger like his 20 years have earned him wisdom / I don't need to be assaulted with your pain / Cause the best of songs are always played beneath the porch light / And the best of love is in the middle of the day / And, look, my soul is not at war now, for a change.
After giving up touring, Jackman settled with his family at their new home, back in Utah. It wasn't long before he was introduced to Jeff Simpson, president of Excel Entertainment Group. Simpson offered Jackman a record deal.
"He offered me a musical home at Highway Records," says Jackman. "It was starting to resemble balance: a label that didn't expect 200 performances a year, the chance to continue to record and play with associates in the musical world who shared my values, who also had families. It has been a blessing."
LOVE YOU LIKE THE RAIN
A beautiful woman with long dark hair is seated in the second row, and she smiles back at Jackman. It's Linda, Jackman's wife and the mother of their two children. They exchange glances throughout the evening, and it's apparent that Linda has inspired many of Jackman's songs.
As I hang up the phone I smile / 'Cause I can hear you smiling too / There's a calmness in your breathing / That says we're both gonna be OK / But the sun and the smoke and the stars / And the Medina washing over me / Your sweet voice in my ear, so complete / Reminding me that my heart still beats
"I somehow convinced this knockout from Colorado to marry me in the fall of 1986," Jackman says. "Linda is my greatest joy. We met in college in Southern Utah. She was the first girl I'd seen that could climb a rock, coil a rope, and turn all the eyes on a night out on the town."
"I've been asked what some of the defining moments in my life are. I can think of many things in my life that have led me to the present moment and circumstance; events and people that I will always cherish and credit for the good in my life: my upbringing with parents who encouraged and taught me in things spiritual, social, and cultural; a mission experience that served to broaden my view; and especially meeting and marrying someone whose example I will spend a lifetime trying to emulate."
THE BACK DOOR
Being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has played a role in both Jackman's personal and musical development. Although his music is rarely religious in nature, it is evident from his writing that spirituality and faith in God are a major part of his character.
Look at the sun / It's falling down the western range / Into the lake it's gonna roll / And up on the East Canyon road / There's an army waiting to march on our homes / Where's a believing soul to go?
"I hope that my faith permeates my songs and performances. I hope that through the whole of my work, it is evident. There have been such enormously gifted and talented people who's talent and works are worthy of the most sacred and glorious subjects, but for me, for now, subtlety reigns. I am a fan of the back door.
"For the most part, my audience has not been made of members of the church; simply because of the geography my touring has covered. But somehow, people perceive things about being a member of the Church, about what we believe and how we live. It sparks questions and conversation.
"After a concert in Athens, Georgia a couple of years ago, a group of people came backstage to meet me. One man who seemed to be the designated spokesman of the group stepped forward. He explained that they were professors at a theological college nearby. He said that they had felt a strong spirit throughout the evening's performance and wanted to know what faith I professed. When I answered, some of them smiled and nodded, others seemed surprised. We all shook hands and went off with warm feelings.
UNCOMMON ELOQUENCE
There's something about Jackman's ease with words that relaxes the entire audience back at the Songwriters in the Round concert. He is a craftsman when it comes to language, exploring abstract ideas and feelings in his songs, and yet using metaphors that are real and earthy.
With the world in commotion / We look to the ocean / We remember some rhythm / Like our bones know the beat of that drum
Shane says, "It seems that the day-to-day experience defines our character more than the landmark moments. It's these experiences that shape the music I write. I try to see the beauty and poignancy of the seemingly mundane and simple, and paint it as honestly as I can. I want to communicate that it's just fine to be ordinary people with common struggles. And when we achieve anything "great", it happens in spite of us, not because of us...and there's amazing beauty in that.
"Sometimes the words of some inspired person hit me like water in the desert. Or a song affects me so deeply that I can hardly contain myself. The ability to communicate emotion is magic. I believe it is one of the greatest gifts of God to man. I understand that our language is thick and lumpy compared to what I imagine the perfect language to be, but it is still immensely powerful. It will be my lifetime pursuit to learn to speak it.
"Then, when combined with music or pictures, it can say so much more than just the words. Story telling is the essence of art. Every song, painting, dance, poem, novel or film is a story. We don't have to personally experience everything this world offers in order to enjoy it, or learn from it. Truly a miracle. To participate in a small part of that process is humbling and joyful."

- Meridian Magazine


Discography

Sanctuary, Highway Records 2005
Equilibrium, Highway Records 2000
Looking West, Independent 1999
Rhythm of the Land, BWE Records 1997
Free in a Free World, Independent, 1995
Elsewhere and Anyway, Independent 1990

Photos

Bio

His music has been called “Sophisticoustic.” While that may describe one element, it certainly doesn’t tell the whole story of the music of Shane Jackman.

“It’s clearly music from the West, but it’s not western music,” Shane says. “It’s about people, but it’s not exactly folk. For Shane, music and life are inseparable and he has an insatiable passion for both. “The music is usually born of real experience and emotions,” he says. “It comes from people I’ve met, know, or have read about. I want it to be special and real.”

Growing up in the canyons near Salt Lake City, the second of nine children, Shane spent cool summer nights outside his window on the roof, playing guitar to the soft sound of the creek behind his house. He began his musical odyssey majoring in fine arts at Southern Utah University before selling his house, packing his VW bus, and driving to Massachusetts with his young family to start his career.

He began small, touring the coffeehouse concert circuit. Before long, Shane’s reputation as an insightful songwriter and engaging performer earned him the chance to share the stage with many of today’s most respected artists.

He released his first label album, Rhythm of the Land, with BWE Music. The album debuted in the Americana Top 40 and rose to number 23 on the Gavin Radio Chart. Newspapers, music magazines, and the industry’s leading songwriters all praised Shane’s lyrical ease and rich melodies. His second album, Looking West likewise received high acclaim.

He released his next two albums, Equilibrium and Sanctuary, with Highway Records and is currently writing songs for a release in 2009.

Shane sees each day with the same poetic perspective he uses in writing music. Because of this outlook, nothing is commonplace. “I try to see the beauty and poignancy of the seemingly mundane and simple, and paint it as honestly as possible,” he says. “I want to communicate that it's just fine to be ordinary people with common struggles. When we achieve anything great, it happens in spite of us, not because of us. There is amazing beauty in that.”

“Life should be lived passionately – deliberately,” Shane says. “I have the rare opportunity to experience a connection with crowds of ordinary folks – to participate in the magic, the circle of energy that unites a group of strangers and allows them to cry together, to laugh together, and to love together like long lost brothers.”