James Marples & The Jewellery StoreJames Marples and The Jewellery Store, recently playing for two nights at the Butterfly Club, is an interesting show/act, with lots of good ideas and skills, but oddly muffled in its final effect. Marples, originally from Brisbane, is now an established folk artist in London, and is certainly a fine song-writer. It is refreshing to hear a generous program of all-original material, highlights (for me) being Her Roving Eye, Bullingdon Club, and Make A Run for It, but really, they are all well-written. The melodies, lyrics, chord progressions and rhythmic changes are arresting, his guitar ably assisted by piano and drums.
However Marples’ voice, while tuneful and accurate, makes considerable use of a falsetto which stretches the melody and seriously weakens the clarity and satirical impulse of much of his material. The first few songs, even in this very intimate venue, were affected by uncertain balance between the three instruments and the voice, but the lyrics of many later pieces were also unclear, the audience disappointed in its wish simply to hear and understand the meaning.

Between songs Marples comes across as a friendly attractive figure, with some interesting social and political comments to make, but, once the music begins, his singing style and lack of clear diction give a cerebral, elusive, almost enigmatic impression. Perhaps if the delivery were more forceful, the tunes more straightforward, making it easier for the audience to learn and maybe even join him on the occasional chorus (this is folk music, ostensibly), things would be different.

James Marples in
James And The Jewellery Store

The Butterfly Club | 204 Bank St, South Melbourne
Dates: Friday 19 and Saturday 20 December (two nights)
Times: 10.30 pm
Duration: 50 minutes approx
Tickets: $27 full / $22 concession and for groups of 8 or more
Bookings: www.thebutterflyclub.com
More info: www.myspace.com/jamesandthejewellerystore

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