Jack Peñate - After You review: Eclectic new songs from Adele’s old pal
If there's any legend that has grown around Jack Peñate during 10 years of silence, it’s less to do with the jolly skiffle pop of early singles such as Torn on the Platform, and more about the success of his old pal Adele. “I got my manager, record deal and publishing deal because of this man,” she wrote on Instagram last month.
Hopefully he got some sort of finder’s fee, as a decade is a huge gap between second and third albums and he hasn’t been touring either.
The 35-year-old says he wrote “well over a thousand songs” in the interim. The 10 that have emerged on After You are an eclectic, ambitious bunch, ranging from the woozy gospel of Prayer to the Beatlesy ballad Loaded Gun and the slow-building trip hop of Let Me Believe.
Co-producers include Adele’s collaborator Paul Epworth, and Inflo, known for his work with Michael Kiwanuka. You can hear hints of Kiwanuka’s psychedelic soul on standout track Murder, a retro bass groove that opens out into a fabulous, bright chorus. Peñate is working hard, pushing his unremarkable voice to the point of distortion in places, and sophisticated touches such as the jazzy trumpet on GMT and a snatch of poetry by his grandfather, Mervyn Peake, make his chirpy debut feel as distant as it is.
It’s nice to see him in action again, but whether most will remember him fondly enough to care is another matter.