Jacob Slater – frontman and principal songwriter of Wunderhorse – goes solo on this fine new album. With the band’s line-up now settled as a four-piece following recent album ‘Cub’, Slater felt the time was right to release this body of solo work.
‘Pinky, I Love You’ is a stripped back collection, the majority with just vocal and guitar but they are breathtaking as they are vulnerable. Slater opens his heart on this album. Whether or not his inspiration comes from personal experiences, the songs express a depth of feeling and have an emotional pull that is captivating. The compositions have been created in his home on the Cornish coast and there is an overall sense of calm in the production process which seeps through the album. The emotional impact is gut wrenching, such is the talent of the songwriting and the quality of the vocal.
Album opener ‘One For The Pigeons’ sets the scene with its authenticity in the crackly start. Lyrically this is a romantic track, indeed it’s a theme that permeates ‘Pinky, I Love You’: “Your love’s a language beyond words / I just wanna die with you in my arms…”
The acoustic simplicity of ‘I Do’ is its joy, the vocal and guitar is enough. Over-production can be too much and here Slater proves that in this world dominated by noise from every angle, quiet grace can be more appropriate, and the beauty here stops the listener. ‘Dead Submarines’ focuses inward, questioning and thought-provoking, I wonder if this is Slater’s own personal experiences, attempting to navigate life in this turbulent world: “I saw a blind man / Smiling at strangers / Happiest person that I’d seen in ages / It’s true / I asked for his point of view…”
One of the highlights of the album is ‘Kissin’ Booth’. The imagery in the lyrics creates a picture of heartbreak, the lyrics providing vivid story-telling, and the emotion of the track is evident throughout. Goosebumps. How can a guitar and a vocal induce such a response?
On ‘Blue Lullabies’ and ‘Red Balloon’ the question continues, just how is it possible to sing so delicately, so beautifully and create these gorgeous soundscapes. The former introduces a trumpet which adds to the melancholy of the track, while the love song ‘Red Balloon’ has bird song in the background, a layer which accompanies the crisp plucking and strumming of the guitar.
‘Untitled’ sees Slater’s vocal at its most passionate and emotional. A song of introspection and perhaps the impact of a relationship, thus the vocal delivery entirely appropriate for the tender lyrics.Jacob Slater closes out ‘Pinky, I Love You’, with a stunning cover of ‘Moon River’. Composed by Henry Mancini and written by lyricist Johnny Mercer, Slater does his own arrangement. Written for the film Breakfast At Tiffanys and sung by Audrey Hepburn, Slater slows it right down adding a notable key change towards the end.
I wonder if the creation of ‘Pinky, I Love You’ was a cathartic process for Slater? Whatever the influences he has produced an album full of depth, emotion, heartbreak and joy all delivered in a minimal style that will continue to produce goosebumps on multiple listens.
Words: Julia Mason