Secrets and White Lies
- Artist: Jack Howard
- Format: CD
- Release Date:11/2/2003
Jack Howard played trumpet and sang with the late, great Hunters and Collectors, and along the way performed or recorded with Midnight Oil, The Living End, The Models, X, Harem Scarem, and a host of others. Jack now performs with his own band (The Long Lost Brothers) and after the release of the critically-acclaimed 'Lo Stresso Tempo' in 2001, his debut full-length CD 'Secrets and white lies', is now released on Laughing Outlaw Records. Jack's music is a mix of dark, moody landscapes and big pop anthems and is filled with deeply affecting lyrics, driving rhythms, brilliant angular guitar from Nicky Del Rey and soaring horn lines. The band perform every Friday night at the Elwood RSL with special guests like Paul Hester, Monique Brumby and Carolyn Kennedy. In between, Jack has penned Olympic and Footy anthems for TV, and has a footy song out at the moment, 'I'm Still Here', which Francis Leach has been spinning on his Saturday morning sports show, 'When Saturday Comes'. Jack also teaches trumpet and jazz at Wesley College in Melbourne, throws shot put and discus every Saturday in the summertime, has two lovely children, rents, cuts his own hair, and follows the glorious Carlton Football Club. LINER NOTES BY ROB HIRST OF MIDNIGHT OIL 'Secrets and white lies' is a strong showcase for ex Hunners hornsmith and vocalist Jack Howard, who combines angular guitar riffs, melodic brass themes, hammond swells and a great rhythm section on an album that touches on loss and yearning, love and betrayal. There's an intensity and dynamic range here which is not for the faint hearted, and which often belies the cool of the grooves - whether that be the country pop of 'Heard you Cry', with it's Jimmy Webb-esque arrangement, or the bluesy twang and walking bassline of 'Break that Spell'. The centerpiece is the voice - these are songs after all - with moody verses, hooky choruses and middle 8's, and compelling lyrics, which are often deeply personal and clearly heart-felt. You can hear Jack's contribution to H & C in 'Fear of Flying', driven as it is by the trademark guitar / floor-tom mid-tempo pulse, followed by the brassy chorus sung by a passionate man. The album concludes with 'Frankenstein', in which a could-be psychopath pleads his innocence...but can he be believed? Believe in this.' PRESS: 'Jack Howard used to be with Aussie band Hunters and Collector's (whose song 'Dog' features the most infectious last ten seconds of a song ever) until they disbanded in 98. Since then, he's been working on his own solo material and has already got one release under his arm, 2000's 'Lo Stresso Tempo.' 'Secrets and White Lies' indeed features three of the most standout tracks from his 2000 debut but more on them later. For fans of Hunters and Collectors in the meantime, there's more than a thread of continuity that runs through the album, with songs like 'Great White Way' making use of the Hunters' distinctive brass sound (which Howard was already responsible for anyway) - the appeal to americana audiences is there in tracks like 'Heard You Cry' and other songs such as 'She's Gone' and the beautiful 'You Will Find' show a darker side to Howard's versatility. Lyrically Howard is very impressive with his use of language too - tracks like 'Restlessness' show a Paul Kelly type of ear for perfect couplets ('Neither food nor drink nor love can cure that endless restlessness'). - 3/5 Americana-UK Website (UK) 'Despite only Jack Howard being billed as the artist on this Laughing Outlaw release, the album is far from being a solo record. Strong contributions are made by members of Howard's band, known as the Long Lost Brothers, and most notably by Nicky Del Rey who adds guitar and backing vocals to all the tracks here. Howard was vocalist and trumpet player with Australia's Hunters and Collectors until they called it a day in 1998. He has since recorded or played with Midnight Oil (their Rob Hurst supplies the liner notes for this album), the Living End and the Models to name but a few. He released his first solo album titled 'Lo Stresso Tempo' in 2000. This new album features 3 of what many claim to be the best tracks from that previous album, 'Mr. Twilight', 'Home' and 'Frankenstein', to bring a total of 15 songs to this, Howard's first Laughing Outlaw release. Anyone who cites Miles Davis and Tom Waits as their biggest influences is surely worth a listen and Howard doesn't disappoint. The first surprise is that the album is not over-heavy on the brass sounds that Howard is best known for. The second surprise for those hearing Howard for the first time is how strong and passionate his vocals are. 'Fear Of Flying' perhaps shows the powerful vocals off best and although Howard's brass playing is also to the front here on the chorus and instrumental break the song is really driven along by Del Rey's guitar playing with a riff which once heard is impossible to get out of your head. The sound of brass is generally a sound that one loves or hates, especially when it is used as the main sound. Much like the jazz genre itself, in fact. If horns though are not your thing, one shouldn't be put off lending an ear to these songs. One of the standout tracks, 'Restlessness', for example, has blues influenced vocals from Howard, a rhythm section who obviously know their way around a song and play with feeling, and also what can only be described as some stunning guitar work from Mr. Del Rey again. Add to this Howard's distinctive brass and vocals and the word cool springs to mind. As it also does on the following track, 'Sail Upon Her Smile'. Opening with acoustic guitar before Howard adds some dreamy trumpet, it is an excellent piece of late night listening music guaranteed to calm even the most stressed mind. When Del Rey starts playing some nice, fat guitar it is the icing on the cake. This brings me back to my earlier comments about this being a solo Jack Howard album. Howard has surrounded himself here with a group of outstanding musicians and the album would be a lot less appealing if it wasn't for the contribution of these players. Apart from Del Rey, the keyboard playing by Ollie McGill is breathtaking and the bass playing by Barry Stockley on the title track is superb. Mention should also be made of the magnificent vocals by Callie Gray on this latter track. So what we have here is a bunch of musicians (and I've only mentioned a few, but they all play from the heart) obviously experienced in their choice of instrument coming together to play the songs of an extremely talented songwriter and musician and sounding like they enjoy it. With it's blues and jazz leanings and Howard's impressive lyrics (listen to 'She's Gone' for confirmation, a tale of a 23 year old girl presumed dead but actually starting a new life for herself) this is essential late night listening. A real find.' - Pennyblack Music Website (UK)
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