Review – Jump – Breaking Point

“We are, as a species, addicted to story. Even when the body goes to sleep, the mind stays up all night, telling itself stories.”

Jonathan Gottschall

‘Breaking Point’ is JUMP’s fourteenth album. The Welsh band’s first release in over four years, it comprises a collection of material built around its title track. The familiar personal narratives with which they are so strongly identified are here again, this time set in a context defined by the tragedy of, and fallout from, a faraway conflict.

Simply put, ‘Breaking Point’ wonders out loud about how refugees became scapegoats…

There’s a little story about how I first heard JUMP, I’d heard of the band, of course, but their music hadn’t really crossed my radar until I attended HRH Prog in Pwllheli in 2018 with James R Turner in tow, covering the festival as a journalist.

James was, and still is, a big fan of JUMP and persuaded me to check out their set and I am so glad I did, they were exceptional and John Dexter Jones is an amazing frontman!

I listened to the new album, ‘Breaking Point’, on bandcamp and was so impressed I bought the CD there and then. So, dear listener, this review actually comes from my own purchased copy and not a promotional copy sent out from the band or label…

This is an album full of stories, not just songs. John draws you into his storytelling with his distinctive and emotional vocal delivery, very much a modern minstrel. In ancient times, wandering minstrels would tell tales by singing songs around campfires as wine and ale were consumed by the rapt audience. This is how ancient ‘news’ was passed around, by word of mouth, tales somewhat embellished by the skill of the performer, but with truth at their core.

I asked John what he though made this album stand out from the band’s previous releases:

“That’s for the listener to judge, I suppose. We’ve never worked to any kind of formula, and as writers and musicians, we work in different combinations and by different methods. Breaking Point will be as distinct from Over the Top as the next album will be from Breaking Point, and as Over the Top was from The Black Pilgrim. Trace your way back over fourteen albums in thirty years and I’d hope that would be the case for all of them. The day we produce something that sounds ‘just like the last one’, we’ll know, and it wont get released! We’re lucky in that we don’t have anyone breathing down our necks to deliver something that meets a contractual requirement. If it’s not exactly what we want to put out, it won’t see the light of day.

Breaking Point is a musical statement about the way we see the world as it appears to us right now, and we hope that the feel, sound and attack of the record supports that ‘sense’. I hope it stands out to people…but then I hope that The Winds of Change does too!”

I often rail against the numb blandness of the majority of modern chart music. Don’t get me wrong, it obviously has an audience or it wouldn’t sell but, it’s not music that will last or leave any legacy and, if I’m being brutally honest, it’s not even ‘music’ to me. Bands like JUMP with their high octane performances and songs that have meaning and substance in today’s world, offer an antidote to all of that colourless insipidity and ‘Breaking Point’ is a definite beacon of light in the darkness of mediocrity that surrounds us.

The band have put 30 years of experience into superb tracks like hard edged rocking opener The Heroes with its powerful chorus, The King with its full on pomposity and the slow burning grandeur of The Voices with its intense and ardent guitar solo. In fact, as well as John’s fine vocals, the other highlight of this superb album is Ronnie Rundle’s amazing and incandescent guitar playing that adds so much to each and every track.

In an album full of sublime songs other highlights include Breaking Point, the fine title track with it’s stylish 80’s rock/neo-prog feel and closing track The Cold Fire where John takes centre stage and grabs your attention like a troubadour of olden times at the height of his powers before this memorable song opens out into something quite marvellous.

With ‘Breaking Point’ JUMP have delivered a perfect modern metaphor of an album. In fact, it’s not just a collection of songs with a common theme, it is a well written and superbly told story that engages the listener in the engrossing tale being told. The art of the songwriter and the storyteller are still very alive and well thanks to this impressive Welsh band.

Released 16/11/2020

Order the album from bandcamp here:

Review – Jump – Over The Top – by Emma Roebuck

Jump Over The Top Cover

Music has long been a mechanism for storytelling and the broad church of the Prog scene has it’s fair share of these tellers of tales. Some tell tales of ancient mythology, others speak of tales from the nursery; some speak of dystopian futures while Jump speak of a real world of toil, strife and pain but still retain a joy of living. They are truly progressive but not by creating some ‘new’ sound or feel but by drawing together a whole cadre of musical styles and yet. make it sound like themselves and not a mash up or a messy sound.

Certain musical journalists have gone on record as saying that this is nothing new or ground breaking, I disagree with them in that prog music is not always about being ground breaking and shattering barriers. I would say that it is about evolving as musicians and travelling on your own journey, bringing people along with you on that journey and giving pleasure.

The 15th album from the band that is Jump is the end of a long line of product developed over 26 years. This album has been anticipated by fans of the band for some time now. Many of the songs have been in the live set for a while and, as such, will be instantly familiar to those fans. The worry that the translation from live performance to studio recording could take some of the gloss off the songs is quickly destroyed after one listen of the album.

Jump Live

‘Black Pilgrim’, the last studio album, was rooted in folk tradition. It suited John Dexter Jones’ vocal style like a glove. ‘Over The Top’ brings them to a more rock based feel but it does not feel like a backward step. The overall feel of the album is one of a wide variety of musical styles gathered together from a long period of writing. The benefit of this is that the quality is consistently high across the album yet it does not feel like a disparate collection of music that has been cobbled together.

First, the familiar tracks that have been promised. The Wreck of the St Marie has been a live track in the set for over a year, a tale of wreckers off the coast of Anglesey based on a true story of the Royal Charter. The drama of storms and the deliberate wrecking of a cargo of gold treasure and pillage. This is a masterpiece of storytelling that Jump are so good at you can feel the time the place and event happening  as song unfolds.

Fast forward to Johnny V. We all had a Johnny V in our lives, the one guy that seemed to have an almost telepathic connection to what was the great music of the time. The prophet who you knew would keep you right with music. The story of his passing and the celebration of Twisted Sister in the cathedral as he shifts off this mortal coil is strangely fitting in a time when more of our heroes have crossed the veil recently.

The album crosses the centuries like a time lord ‘Jumping’ from one historical event to another with ease. The title track Over The Top personalises the story of a father and his son in WW1 and the sacrificial lambs that generation became in the 1914-18 ‘war to end all wars’.

50 is a real rock out and feels to me like a railing against the aging process and a demand to not give in to the ravages of aging.

Overall this is an accessible album full songs that Jump fans will enjoy but, I think, if you have never heard of Jump as a band then this is a great introduction  to find out what they are about. You won’t get a revolutionary new sound or style but, I believe there are no new styles to found anyway, just reconfigured old ones. If you like music that has melody and some sing-along choruses along with the great story telling tradition of the Bard this is for you.

Released 12th March 2016.

Buy ‘Over The Top’ direct from bandcamp