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Jackson Scott, ‘Melbourne’ – Album Review

Twenty-year-old Asheville resident Jackson Scott is not exactly what he seems on record. Interviews have shown him to be not an enigmatic revivalist of the experimental-singer-songwriter archetype, but rather a pretty normal guy whose tastes skew more mainstream than you’d expect from someone frequently compared to artists like Bradford Cox.

What’s clear is his potential, as ‘Melbourne,’ created on a four-track mostly by himself, is just a jumping-off point for a young man with more ideas than experience.

Though his press bio contains confusing talk of the occult and bending spoons and otherwise meaningless fluff, Scott’s talent is not as otherworldly as might be fun to imagine. ‘Sandy’ is almost bubblegum-like in its nostalgia, while ‘That Awful Sound’ is strikingly contemporary. Both benefit from the album’s sonic limitations, the rawness of their bedroom-project sound giving the songs a weight and importance that would be lost if their arrangements were more fully realized. This kind of amalgamation of influences seems to be more common these days (think Ariel Pink, Chris Owens, John Maus) and might be evidence of how a certain type of artistic mind processes overwhelming stimulation.

That said, the album is also a mess in a lot of ways. There is little consistency from track to track, and it plays like a sampler of songs written over a lifetime that shouldn’t necessarily be presented together. Where ‘In The Sun’ works as a cracked and damaged singalong, the shift coming from the Ambien rock of ‘Together Forever’ is jarring and speaks to the artist’s immaturity and inexperience.

For as good as it can be, ‘Melbourne’ lacks standouts that reveal anything more than his tremendous potential. But that doesn’t make the album unimpressive or even a bad listen. Songwriters with such disregard for convention and willingness to explore are rare, and given his youth, Scott will hopefully get the opportunity to realize his potential.

‘Melbourne’ is the album that should get him a record deal, not the album you hope to hear after he lands one. As long as you go in with that in mind, Scott is one to keep on the radar.

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