OxStu’s very own

Home grown talent is always the best kind. Why else would British yummy mummies traipse around farmer’s markets trying to find the best local strawberries? And in the case of OxStu Music, this new singer-songwriter is very home grown indeed.

Last week, music editor Jake Downs wowed his audience at Magdalen College Chapel with a set filled with exciting covers and gorgeous original songs, all punctuated with endearing conversation.

Sitting behind a piano without any shoes on, Jake was joined by a string quartet, as well as his sister on backing vocals. The luscious chords of the string quartet for the start of ‘Crave’, released last year on Vox Humana Records, made for a calm beginning before the pounding piano brought the chapel alive.

Reminiscent of Patrick Wolf, Jake’s voice is one of his best attributes, being simultaneously soulful and powerful. This comes out particularly in the less busy ‘Pleasure Past’, whilst in the faster-paced ‘Seize the Water’, he uses staccato inflections to intrigue.

But it’s the cover versions Jake does that truly show off his talent. It is easy for a songwriter to perform their own songs but to take something well known, to twist and make it your own; that’s the mark of a great musician. ‘Jolene’ is the first song to have this treatment, with Jake slowing it down, allowing the lyrics to take centre stage.

Next up is the Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush duet ‘Don’t Give Up’ with the personal relationship between sister and brother giving a real connection between the two characters. And finally, as an encore, Jake skips back out to give a storming rendition of ‘Running Up That Hill’.

All the way through he continues chatting away to the audience as if we were all just at the pub with him, getting his quartet members to pick topics of conversation and pose questions to him. It’s this kind of nonchalant attitude which really emphasises the enormous amount of talent he has.