I’ve got a long relationship with Jump, with them being a band closely associated with Spirits predecessor, the legendary Classic Rock Society, being one of the first bands I ever saw tread the hallowed ground of the Herringthorpe Leisure Centre, and a band who I’ve seen live more than any other band over the last 26 years.
The last time I saw them was at HRH Prog in Pwllheli in 2018, where some of the material on this new album was performed live to an appreciative crowd, in fact one track, the highly emotional Station Parade had its only live outing so far.
Breaking Point is the bands 14th album, and the follow up to 2016’s critically acclaimed Over the Top.
Produced by guitarist ‘Ronnie’ Rundle, and with the line up of John Dexter Jones providing thought provoking lyrics and on point vocals, long term members Steve Hayes on guitar, Andy Barker on drums, Mo on keys and Mark Pittam on bass (who departed shortly after this was recorded, his place taken by the welcome return of former Jump bassist Andy Faulkner returning for his 2nd stint) the band are as tight on this album as they are live.
I mentioned in my HRH review about how people comment on various social media forums as to how politics doesn’t belong in music, I will echo my previous comments by stating this is bunkum (although I am sure JDJ will have stronger terms for this) politics affects every single aspect of our lives, whether consciously or unconsciously, and for artists to ignore their own beliefs and pander to what they think an audience wants to hear is a betrayal of their art. Luckily John (and the Jump fans) have the courage of their convictions, and we are more than welcome to listen to his world view, especially when the album is as powerful as this is.
The overarching story that the band are telling here is that of how refugees become scapegoats, and the album hangs together so well around that concept that it works best when listened in full as in immersive, and emotional journey, weaving in elements from previous albums like the ghost of David Richard Jones, John’s Uncle (previously featured in both Bethesda & On Impulse) and this trilogy of songs is book marked by one of the bands most powerful pieces of work, and is as an important piece of work as any Jump have recorded.
Breaking Point, the title taken from ‘that’ poster and all it implies lays bare the façade of civilisation and the darkness that lurks below, from the King of Dark Arts (last seen heading towards Barnard Castle for an eye test) and then comes the journey from the City in ruins, the Voices of the helpless and the disposed, hiding in the Cellar, til they find theirs no room at the inn in Breaking Point.
In structuring this album as a narrative (with The Heroes being almost the introduction to the players in the band – like the brief bio in any stage play programme) Jump have married their most powerful musical performance on record yet, to some of the strongest and most potent lyrics JDJ has ever produced.
This album, with it’s closing pieces of the Widow and The Cold Fire – with its epic ending and stunning chorus, is the best (so far) of the bands long career.
The strange year in which it’s been released has brought the emotive topic covered here into even sharper relief, and it’s hard for me to pinpoint the strongest track on the album, because the way it’s weaved together, as a story, as a narrative and as a musical statement as strong as any released in 2020, means this has to be listened to in one sitting.
This isn’t a ‘dip in’ album, or a ‘soundtrack whilst you’re painting’, this is an album that is meant to be listened to, absorbed in, and devoured (like a boxed set) and long after the album has finished playing, the images the songs bring to mind, and the emotions they bring to the fore will stay with you.
The way the band work together and allow Johns fine vocals to come to the fore, as he not just singing the words, he is living the lyrics as the narrator has always been Jumps strength, and the twin guitars of Steve Hayes and Ronnie Rundle are used to great effect throughout this record, whilst Andy Barkers drum work is powerful and helps anchor the band with the dextrous bass work of recently departed Mark Pittam, who leaves this fine legacy as his final musical statement with Jump, whilst the wonderful keyboard work of Mo, an integral part to the Jump sound enhances so many of the tracks on here.
Jump have always been a fascinating and intelligent band, and for me, Breaking Point is the pinnacle of their long career (so far) and is, after consideration and other strong contenders, my album of the year this year.
John Dexter Jones – vocals
Steve Hayes – guitar
Ronnie Rundle – guitar
Mo – keyboards
Andy Barker – drums
Mark Pittam – Bass
1.The Heroes 04:54
2.The King 06:02
3.The City 06:15
4.The Voices 04:35
5.The Cellar 02:23
6.Breaking Point 07:16
7.The Parade 04:56
8.The Widow 05:26
9.The Cold Fire 07:21
Released on 16th November 2020 on F2 records
Available direct from Breaking Point | JUMP (bandcamp.com)
Spot on James. A clear and honest review of a great album. So eagerly awaited, I suspect had this finally come to fruition earlier in the year I too would have it “Album of the year”. Although I have heard quite a few of the songs performed live, I haven’t had long enough to hear it as you suggest – in its entirety. I fully agree that is the best, nay only, way to absorb this masterpiece.