For many fans of Kris Schroeder’s work, his debut album under the Jackmann alias has been a long time coming. For close to two decades, he has served as a founding member of Melbourne stalwarts The Basics. Beloved by fans the world over, the last few years have seen Schroeder focusing his efforts on Jackmann, his new solo project.
Sharing his debut EP earlier this year, Jackmann announced his debut album soon afterwards, with singles such as “All or Nothing” and “3-6-27” giving fans a taster of what was to come with Low Key.
Recorded across a weekend at Abbey Road Studios with Grammy and Emmy Award-winning producer Sam Okell, Low Key is truly anything but, and deserves to stand tall as one of the strongest releases shared by an Australian artist in 2020.
From opening track “Her Love is Savage”, the listener is transported into the mesmerising world that Jackmann creates, as he shares haunting, acoustic numbers, with his confessional lyrics bolstered by his gorgeous voice which evokes memories of icons like Leonard Cohen, or the nascent splendour of Orville Peck.
What results on this record is an experience as raw as it is powerful, with these stunning compositions – which range from sparse to intricate – seeing Jackmann drawing the listener in with these masterful lyrics which create characters that stick with you long after the track is gone.
While the intimate delivery of many of these songs makes the record feel as though it was recorded live in your living room on a cosy night, it’s the presence of guest musicians which helps to open up the album and let its true colours shine.
As the addition of Vashti Anna on “Feet to The Floor” provides balance to the slick track, the star of the show is undoubtedly “The Ship of Thesus”, a style-shifting tour de force which utilises the talents of Nada Souikra to create an eclectic opus which flexes their musical muscles without once feeling overbearing.
It’s the genre-exploring presence of tracks like this which amplify the heartfelt message of compositions like “All or Nothing”, which showcase Jackmann’s skills as one of the finest songwriters in the country right now.
Ultimately, Low Key is an album meant for the times the listener finds themselves in. It’s one that warrants careful listening, lest you miss one single note or lyric that make up this rich musical tapestry. It’s a comforting collection of tunes which not only serves as a debut release that deserves unending acclaim, but also provides a positive idea of what’s to come in the world of Jackmann.
Jackmann’s Low Key is out now via MGM.