It’s hard not to perk up when Sweet Jane comes around. With their debut release, Sugar for My Soul out now on Reekus Records, this Irish band blows through a nebulous and brisk take on all things Velvet Underground and Jesus and Mary Chain.
Songwriter and guitarist Danda Paxton knows the sixties, that’s for sure, but there’s also a sort of “updated charm” to his work. Paxton was the main songwriter in Mainline and The Brothers Movement, but he’s thrust all of his effort into Sweet Jane and the intoxicating results stand as strong evidence to his decision to commit.
That commitment leads beautifully into a sensual vocal relationship with the band’s charming Lydia des Dolles. With Donagh O’Brien on drums and Ruari Paxton on bass to close up the line-up, Sweet Jane is a psychedelic hunk of dream pop enchantment.
Sugar for My Soul opens with “Bleed,” a pulsating rocker with spiralling guitar that calls to mind bits of Mazzy Star. The blend of male and female vocals makes for some excellent stuff, but it’s Paxton’s guitar that sends this one into the stratosphere of excellence. “Why don’t you bleed for me,” sings des Dolles and I’m nearly convinced I should.
There’s also a slice of alternative country tucked in to the fuzzy pop vibe, as “I’ve Been Waitin’” reminds us. The achingly beautiful piece lets the Dublin group stretch out with a spacious arrangement bolstered by organ and more of that lush male/female vocal work. When the colossal stroke of guitar breaks the door down, though, it’s a rompin’ and stompin’ masterpiece of epic proportions.
Sweet Jane originated in 2008 out of the desire between des Dolles and Paxton to put together some sort of project. They put out an EP, Blackboots & Blackhearts, and were signed to Reekus Records not long after that. Bolstered by fan support, Sweet Jane took to the road and “toured furiously.” The next stop on the journey is, of course, Sugar for My Soul.
The gauzy “Something for My Soul” may well be my favourite track on the album. It floats into range like a cloud, softly gliding through dark skies. The melodies arc and bend, slowly cruising from vapour to lucidity with a velvety stream. Paxton and des Dolles merge faultlessly, too, providing sensual vocal curves for the song to wind its way around. And that anthemic guitar? Fuck yes.
Sugar for My Soul is beautiful stuff. It’s a cohesive record, one of intriguing atmosphere and stunning depth. Above it all, these are just terrific songs. Something tells me Sweet Jane is a band we’re going to be hearing a hell of a lot more from in the coming years – if there’s any justice in the world, that is.
You can purchase music by Sweet Jane from the Reekus Records store. I suggest you do so.
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