Jump: Over the Top (2016)

UK band JUMP have been a going entity for more than a quarter of a century now, although this still will have them described as a part of the new scene in progressive rock by some. Self-described as an eclectic band, this is a venture with more than a dozen studio albums to their name, thousands of gigs too apparently, and at least so far rather safely tucked into the underground rock scene too for some reason. “Over the Top” is their latest studio production, and was self-released in the spring of 2016.

Jump is one of those bands where I just cannot understand why they haven’t risen to a greater stature. These are well versed musicians and composers, with a good grasp for compelling melodies and with the experience to be effective in their songwriting as well as the execution of their tunes. A well oiled machine in that context, running smoothly and in a manner that should have a fairly broad reach. Lack of exposure may be a part of this obviously, but their main challenge may possibly be that they don’t appear to orient themselves in towards any given niche market, and that the more mass market channels are closed to them.

In terms of progressive rock and related categories of music, I’d pretty much say that what Jump presents on this album is music residing somewhere in the middle between Marillion’s “Misplaced Childhood” and Magnum’s “On a Storyteller’s Night”. At times with tendencies towards one or the other, but more often the material consist of similar features and details but explore a sound that is, in fact, rather different from both of these. That some of the additional associations I noted were Dire Straits, Pink Floyd and Procol Harum may just indicate something as far as this observation goes.

An additional dimension brought in to the overall sound of this band is folk music. Rarely in a distinctly purebred manner, but there’s something of a folk music undercurrent in most of the songs here. Subtle and downplayed to a greater extent than dominant and out in the open, but still this is an album that has a certain vibe or atmosphere to it that corresponds with this aspect. Rather far removed from the Jethro Tull’s of this world I should add, I’d rather look towards the older more purebred folk rock bands as a possible source of inspiration for this aspect of Jump’s material, and again emphasize that on most occasions it is a subtle more than a strongly dominant presence.

Plucked guitar motifs combined or alternating with firm guitar riffs, at times giving some of the cuts more of a hard rock feel in places, with tasteful keyboards and organ details on top, are the main ingredients of the songs here. At times in a more delicate and ballad oriented manner, in other places with a firmer and harder general feel. Occasionally adding a darker touch to the atmospheres created. The vocals are well delivered and well controlled, and the mix and production suits the material perfectly. It’s a well made album on all levels, and while perhaps not quite as complex as many other albums described inside a progressive rock context, quite a few of the songs are in fact a bit quirkier than what your first impressions will indicate.

Jump is one of many bands out there that deserves a broader audience, and with “Over the Top” I’d say that the band documents quite nicely that they are, indeed, not yet fit to be placed into the category the album title may suggest. Fans of mid 80’s Marillion and Magnum would be something of a key audience for this band in my book, and those who are should spend a few minutes getting to know the music of this fine band.

My rating: 8/10

Track list:
Sir Thomas and the Passer-By; The Wreck of the Saint Marie; The End of Days; Old Gods; Behind the Lines; The Vagrants’ Song; This Beach; Johnny V; 50; Staring at the Rain

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