"In This Life" is the debut album by hard rock band Jet Black Stare. I first heard "Ready to Roll", the first song on this album, when I was talking about bands with a friend and they recommended that I look this song up, and based solely upon hearing this one song, I went out and bought the album. Well, to be fair I didn't 'go' anywhere. I got it from eBay. But still.
I was surprised to see that the cover of this album was quite basic looking, with "Jet Black Stare" written across it in large letters and the title of the album, "In This Life" in a fairly basic font across the bottom of the album, but this didn't put me off buying it, given I only paid about £3 on eBay. I think it retails for a lot more than this now though, more around the £9 mark on Amazon.
The tracklisting for this album is as follows:
1. Ready To Roll
2. I'm Breathing
3. In This Life
4. Every Moment
5. It's Over
6. Rearview Mirror
8. I Won't Let Go
9. Poster Princess
10. The River
11. Next To Me
As I've mentioned already, the first song on this album was what prompted me to purchase it. "Ready To Roll" is the sort of song that you'll either love or hate, I suppose. It sounds like a rock song right from the very start, and if you don't like rock music, well, you're not going to like this. It's as simple as that really. It's the kind of song that really makes you want to get into a fast car and speed down some open highway somewhere. And, oddly, this is actually what they do in the video for it. But that's not relevant to the song on the album, obviously. The lyrics even suggest the idea of speeding down a highway somewhere as well, with lines like "Open road and I'm ready to roll" and "Top down on the highway". I think that this song just has that summertime feeling to it as well, which is something that I think is always a good thing with rock songs, rather than just focusing on the negatives as so many rock songs have a habit of doing.
The second song on this album, "I'm Breathing", does have more of a negative feeling to it than "Ready to Roll" has. It is much slower and quieter in general as well, which for me was something of a disappointment when you consider just how good "Ready to Roll" really is. Don't get me wrong, it's a really good song. The lyrics have much more meaning to them, and are more heartfelt than the lyrics in "Ready to Roll". And in fairness, if I had heard this song first instead I would still have loved the band just as much. "I'm Breathing" just doesn't have that same kick that was so prominent in "Ready to Roll". It has more of an acoustic sort of feel to it than a pre-recorded song, and this is generally something that I don't really like, but I do think it works here, although it does have more of a finished feel to it than purely acoustic songs tend to have. It's not a bad song at all.
"In This Life" follows on from their second song more than their first song, continuing more with the slower, more heartfelt lyrics rather than the fast rock sound they started off so promisingly with. These lyrics in general are more about the idea of love and finding 'the one' and then having to leave them for a while. In my opinion, this makes this song sound much more like a generic love song rather than anything really new or unique. It's a shame really, because their first song was just so good, and then they seem to have almost lost that with these next few songs. They have a much more depressing feeling to them than what I was really expecting from the first song on the album.
While "Every Moment" does still have some elements of the previous two songs in it, you can still hear more of the faster rock elements in this song as well, which I think is definitely a good thing. I absolutely love this song because of the meaning within the song, and the fact that this song has more of a happier feeling to it (even though the lyrics aren't entirely happy and are somewhat kept in the past). I often find myself singing this song, even if I don't mean to be doing it. It just comes into my head. It has quite an upbeat feel to it without being over the top. The subject of this song is love, which is something that can get pretty annoying when it's in every single song you listen to, but I think it works really well in this song.
"It's Over" is really quite different compared with the songs that I have spoken about before, focusing more on the end of a relationship, yet in a positive way. The overall sound of this is completely different as well though, not really sounding as much like the typical Jet Black Stare that you can hear in the rest of the songs on this album. I would even go as far as to say that it sounds like a different band altogether. As for someone to compare this song with, it sounds like the kind of thing you might expect from a band like Three Days Grace, which just isn't what this band typically sounds like. I think that the lyrics in this song are more stereotypical of heartbreak songs nowadays as well.
Again, "Rearview Mirror" sounds so different to Jet Black Stare's typical sound that I would go as far as to say they sound like a different band. However, it is possible to hear some elements of the typical Jet Black Stare within this track unlike the previous one. The instrumental parts are quite similar to the second and third songs and this kind of enables you to realise that they are still the same band. The lyrics within this song however are more closely related to "It's Over" than the previous songs, and I feel that this is perhaps why it also doesn't sound like the same band. With lines like "We can save this, we can make it right" however show more of the idea of holding onto the past, which is more of a similar subject to "Every Moment" and I think it is possible to hear elements of that song in this one.
"Fly" is one of my favourite songs on this album. I can relate to parts of this song, so therefore I think that I find myself more drawn to it. It feels more like a pop song than a rock song, which isn't really something that I would normally like, but I do like this song because of the lyrics. I like the way that the drums have been used within this song as a very predominant instrument, not just used in the background as they are in so many songs. I think this really adds some depth to this song. I like the lyrics in particular though, as I said before. With lines like "I see a better place" and "If I could fly I would fly away from here", the idea of aiming forwards and trying to get to somewhere better is one that is really relevant to me for a number of reasons, and therefore I think this song just naturally appealed to me more than some of the other ones on this album have done.
"I Won't Let Go" is a song that I feel would have been better placed closer to "I'm Breathing" and "In This Life" on this album because of their sound being so similar. I think that this would have helped to hold the sections of the album together better, seeing as it feels somewhat like this song was just added in randomly rather than having a careful position for it chosen. It just doesn't really seem to fit in the place that it has been put into. The lyrics speak about not letting go of someone and not moving on from the relationship, and this just seems to fit better with the other songs, as I mentioned before. The inclusion of a solo instrumental break within this song is something that I do like however as I feel that this allows the instrumentalists to have more of a prominent role within the song.
Having almost given up on the idea of hearing more songs like "Ready to Roll", "Poster Princess" came on while I was playing the CD and I suddenly regained the hope that there might be more songs like "Ready to Roll" after all. This song has that faster speed and overall sound of being a rock song to it that was simply missing in many of the other tracks on this album. I like the fact that the lyrics within this song actually have more meaning to them and tell more of a story than many of the other songs on the album as well, because this just adds to the overall effect of this song. I think that the use of an electric guitar has really aided the rock effect that this song has compared with the instruments in the other songs on the album.
While "The River" doesn't quite have the same rock feeling to it that "Ready to Roll" and "Poster Princess" have, it does have that rock feeling to it. I love the lyrics in this song. I can relate to them again, which I think is what has drawn me more to this song than some of the others on this album. With lines like "Listen to the sweet sound of the river" coupled with the electric guitar and drum beat, I just love this song and find myself at the very least tapping my foot to this song. It's a really addictive song. Once you've heard it once you just can't stop listening to it and singing it all the time.
"Next to Me" is the final song on the album, and yet again it has more of an acoustic feeling to it than a rock song sound. I think that it should be put with the other songs on the album that sound like this. Even the topics in this song are better suited to the other acoustic songs than being placed after the more rock-sounding tracks. I do like this song, I just feel that it has been placed in the wrong section of the album. I think the lyrics are really meaningful, with lines like "Don't say you're giving up on me" which a lot of people would be able to associate with.
Overall, I feel that it's almost like there could have been an "A side" and a "B side" to this album, half being hard rock and the other half acoustic. It's like they've forced two albums together onto one disc, which I feel doesn't really work particularly well. While I wouldn't say there's a single song on this album that I don't like, it just doesn't go together very well, and I suppose this comes from the fact that this is their debut album on their own record label. With a few tweaks and the addition of a few extra songs, this could easily have been split into two completely different albums in my opinion.