Jackaman – No Halo (Self-Released)

Genre: Classic Rock/Blues Rock

When Saint Jude disappeared without a trace – despite glowing reviews, waves of industry praise and instant fan dedication – there was a collective sigh of resignation from within the classic rock community.

Same story, different band. Yet again a red hot prospect with exquisite songs had only gone so far before collapsing beneath the weight of expectation, financial pressure and familiar setbacks. Or so it seemed.

Saint Jude might have officially called it a day in 2014 but behind the scenes the band’s charismatic frontwoman Lynne Jackaman was already plotting her next move.

Surrounding herself with three Quireboys, drummer Simon Hanson and saxophonist John O’Neill, one of the decade’s finest blues rock vocalists swiftly envisioned No Halo and its follow-up album.

That debut long player is taking shape this month – the band is in the studio as we speak – but for now there are four songs to keep the flame burning.

Jackaman, as is her wont, refuses to hold back on robust opener Wasted and the title track allows for an even greater expansion of that familiar, bluesy, sassy vocal range. Unsurprisingly, given his career-defining work with the Quireboys during the last decade, co-writer and guitarist Guy Griffin adds an effortless cool to proceedings. And yet something’s missing.

Frustratingly, there’s just no killer tune here. No stick-in-the-head rock and roll rollercoaster. No humalong blues rock grower. Simply four consistently solid and immaculately produced songs that showcase Jackaman’s talent – no more and no less. Given the band’s heritage and collective talent, it’s not enough.

Safe, rather than spectacular, No Halo therefore serves as a tantalising teaser for Jackaman’s debut long player. If the band is keeping its best material under wraps until that album surfaces then it’s no bad plan. But if these four songs are as good as it gets then it’s time to rediscover that missing mojo. And fast. Simon Rushworth