If you thought you’d be forgiven for forgetting about Jack Garratt, you’d be very sorely mistaken. Back in 2015, the multi-instrumental, experimental prodigy from Buckinghamshire took the music scene by storm, winning not only the Critics’ Choice award at the Brits, but the BBC Sound of 2016 poll, and a place on MTV’s Brand New shortlist. Debuting at number 3 in the UK charts, his first studio album, Phase, reached the Top 100 in 12 countries, and Garratt went on to headline Lost Village, play the Apple Music Festival, and support Mumford & Sons on their 13 date UK tour.
Despite his immense success, and with the promise of more to come, in 2017 the musician dropped off the radar, releasing no new music until February of this year. After taking a well needed self-care break and to work on producing new music, Garratt sprang back into the limelight, releasing two EPs in short succession; Love, Death & Dancing Vol. 1 in February, followed by Vol. 2 in April. On 12 June, fans will finally be able to hear the album of the same name in full.
Much like Phase, Love, Death & Dancing is full of power and passion. It charts a life of roller-coaster emotions, from feeling broken and helpless, to finding the strength to heal and be healed. It’s also full of surprises and secrets. Right from the beginning, the soft intro percussion and reverb-ed isolated vocals of opening track, ‘Return Them To The One’ lulls the listener into a false sense of security. Garratt’s astounding vocals re-emerge, changed, at the chorus, accompanied by breathtaking synth and electronic noise.
That’s part of the beauty of Love, Death & Dancing. The tracks that carry feelings of loss and despair are shrouded in riffs and catchy choruses. The upbeat tempo of ‘Better’ vastly contradicts it’s lyrics, “if I can take something//to make me feel better than I’m feeling now//then everything else will work itself out”. Garratt is hiding something – presenting the world with a facade in an attempt to distract himself from his true feelings, and convince those around him that he’s doing ok.
It’s not until the album reaches it’s half way point that the voice is finally able to accept and start to repair the damage. ‘Doctor Please’ and ‘Mend a Heart’, whilst contradicting in tone, both acknowledge intense feelings of pain. But it’s ‘Time’ where the true healing begins to occur, the lyrics “but time is on your side” a reassuring reminder that the process may be lengthy, but there’s no rush.
Despite the presence of slower tracks on the album, it feels overwhelmingly upbeat for a record following the journey from brokenness. Garratt manages to take those intense feelings, and create music that still makes the listener want to dance. Maybe it’s dancing, the final and perhaps most significant word in the album’s title, that is the true healer among all the emotion – providing a coping mechanism for Love, Death, and everything in between.
Jack Garratt’s Love, Death & Dancing is released this Friday and is available to pre-order now.