“This is my journey and it’s as raw as any other persons,” says singer-songwriter Jack Bessant reflecting on his latest solo album Lucky Mountain, releasing August 14 2020 on CHEDX Records / High Head Recordings.
For the Reef bassist and solo-artist, this most recent body of work – which includes Peacemaker EP (July 2020) and Brother Thunder EP (Autumn 2020) – is the culmination of a road long traveled. There’s a certain symmetry to Jack’s journey. He grew up on the strawberry farm in the West Country where he is raising his own young family, re-immersed in the landscape of his childhood, reconnected to his community. He has worked to strip back the walls of the 14th century farmhouse to let his home breath, just as he has stripped back his music to let the work breath, resulting in a sound that is honest and organic.
“It’s been about finding your path,” explains Jack, “gaining the confidence to just stand in front of a mic with a guitar and harmonica and share songs from the soul that have meaning and emotion and heart.”
For Jack this album is something of a catharsis, confronting an intensely personal subject that has been buried deep. “I had to deal with my brother committing suicide…” he explains. “It was heavy, it was horrific. I’ve managed to deal with it now through my music. I didn’t want to have to talk about it at the time, I didn’t want to have to say it out loud, but it’s important, we have to be able to be raw with each other… I feel like I’ve told this story now… It’s been a dark horse on me and hopefully through my music I’m able to help other people, not just with coming to terms with something like that, but the realness of all our lives.”
Recorded on the farm in a barn converted with friends, Lucky Mountain is far from a dark body of work. It resonates with a rich tapestry of emotion, from the mournful melancholy of folk rock harp, through rousing bass lines and driving guitar, to the soaring highs of soulful harmonies, with the warm crackle of Norwegian wood burner providing the backdrop to the music. Jack’s aim with this 8 track album has been simple – stripped back if you like. “I hope people feel soothed and get something positive out of it,” he says. “A feeling of ease, a sense of freedom.”
Jack’s greater journey has taken in some of the highest altitudes a musician can strive for – from stadium tours to industry awards and platinum selling albums. As a band Reef started out close to the ocean, with weekly gigs by the beach and salt crusted hair – and it here he still feels most at home. It’s where he’s drawn to when he needs to re-calibrate. “I love going camping and surfing, taking just one guitar and one harmonica and getting a vibe across without having to take loads of complicated equipment, and that’s part of the process,”he explains. “I have a lovely family, want to travel a bit, do some gigs here and there and live a little. This is the journey that I’m on and you don’t always want it to be the same, you want to flow.”