TRACK REVIEW: The State of Georgia- No Man’s Land



The State of Georgia



No Man’s Land



No Man’s Land is available at:

January, 2016



Leeds, U.K.


BREAKING away from bands and male artists at the moment…

it is good to be back with a solo artist who is back with a new track.  Before I get to The State of Georgia- and the album Roses & Swallows– I am looking at female solo artists and those coming through; the variation available within Pop- finishing by looking at how musicians are finding their ambitions and dreams.  I have talked a lot about female solo artists and the variable quality you can find at the moment.  It is interesting looking at the mainstream artists coming through and seeing which ones are going to go the distance.  I have previously highlighted Elle King- a new U.S. singer-songwriter who fuses Country, Rock and Soul- and how she seems to be leading quite a charge.  Her music has that effectiveness and directness- especially the single Ex’s & Oh’s– and the way she fuses multiple genres into something unique and personal.  End-of-year polls (released last year) touted a few examples that could be making waves across 2016.  Everyone from Izzy Bizu and Alessia Cara has been tipped for greatness this year:  Hardly surprising given the way they have exploded onto the scene.  Perhaps a lot of media sources are focusing on the bands and what they can achieve- they tend to overlook some wonderful solo talent.  I am always fascinated to see which lone stars are going to shine and the most worthy in music.  I still maintain the fact female solo artists are more adventurous and stunning than the male examples.  It is not reverse-sexism or anything cynical:  I find the guys are lacking necessary spark and adventurousness in their sounds.  You never know what music is going to give you and who will emerge:  That surprise and unpredictability can lead to some major revelations.  Nobody can deny there are some terrific young bands emerging in music right now.  They get a lot of attention and acclaim- the festival headliners that will always be a huge draw- but those solo acts have to fight harder to be heard and have a more challenging life.  Too many sound-alike, characteristically dull acts are playing which makes the job (deciphering which is best) so much more difficult.  The girls of music- most of them anyway- are making big strides with some tremendously passionate acts showing their stuff.  Before I continue onto new points, it is worth mentioning Leeds-based The State of Georgia.  Like some of the mainstream’s hottest up-comers- Elle King being among them- The State of Georgia deftly blends genres together to create something accessible yet personal.  I have been a fan of hers (Georgina Jakubiak is the face behind the name) and have been following her plight.  There are a great many ambitious and wonderful solo acts performing:  The State of Georgia is among them and continues to grow and develop as a musician.  With the album Roses & Swallows coming up; it is time to embrace those talents that go further and put more depth into their music.  I understand people want something quick and easily digestible- music that just hits you without necessarily leaving an impression.  There are too many mainstream artists that simply turn up and seem to put such little effort into the music.  From Dance acts who are Auto-tuned to the hill- and sound robotic and sterile- through to some of Pop’s most lipid- such a depressing state of affairs at the moment.  I am not suggesting music is in decline- and that we are seeing a huge dip in quality- I am just tired of so many poor and under-achieving musicians come through and do nothing about it.  Too many are getting away with doing the bare minimum and it is really annoying.  The State of Georgia’s heroine is someone who puts effort and time into her songs to ensure they are special and nuanced.  Not another of the turn-up-and-lazily-toss-something-together crowd; a talent that understands how important it is to put passion and grit into the mix.  No Man’s Land is another step forward from a young musician that is completely in love with music.  You can tell how much it (music) means to her and what effort has been expended.  It has not been an easy ride for The State of Georgia and getting where she is now.  One of the reason Roses & Swallows has come to light is the support and backing of her fan-base.  Having found funding through Kickstarter it has raised an interesting point.

Music is an alluring mistress that demands a lot of dedication, drive, originality and… well, money.  It seems anything that appeals and drives humanity- when it comes to passions and dreams- involves a certain capital outlay.  I have been planning ideas and goals myself- a music café in London and radio station- and it is mind-boggling the amount of money needed to get things kick-started.  Musicians have a particularly tough time when it comes to finding the pennies.  When you have that talent and zeal- yet know the financial implications associated- it can be infuriating trying to get funding and support.  The State of Georgia’s forthcoming album has gained public support already:  The fans across social media have donated and backed the project; ensuring it got to the studio and will reach us.  Sites like Kickstarter have their detractors- who claim musicians are not doing things honestly: They should be funding their own music- but they are invaluable and a useful tool for musicians.  If it were not for the crowd-funding sites we would be denied a lot of terrific music.  I am glad the fans have stepped up to the plate and shown faith in an artist that is on the rise.  Having evolved and galvanised as a musician- each new release sees steps forward and new vision- it will be exciting to see The State of Georgia’s new album gain airplay, feedback and respect.  No Man’s Land is an insight into the new sounds and sees the Leeds-based artist in fine form.  Not many musicians are capable of longevity, consistency and originality:  For that reason, The State of Georgia should be congratulated and encouraged.  Using Pop as a starting block; she unites elements of Rock and Alternative into the pot- the result is a heady and seductive sound that has struck the public ear.  I hope she comes play London and the south as the year ticks on- people down here would love to come see her- and it will be exciting to see what is in store.

No Man’s land is The State of Georgia’s latest track and shows huge promise and quality.  From the album Synesthesia– released a few years ago- to this moment, there has been evolution and development from our heroine.  Concentrating on a few tracks- Arm, The Beast and Stay Awake– you can see definite change and mutations.

  Arm is a track that boasts some immediate and stunning vocals- crystal-clear and direct- around a swirling electronic soundtrack.  The strings rise and rouse; the piano lightly plinks and seduces.  With those influences of Kate Bush and Tori Amos combining; we have a number that looks at troubles and doubts.  Our heroine is usually “so strong” but cannot get through today.  Perhaps a partner or lover has been disappointing and insincere.  That bond and passion have faced a challenge and reduced to photos “in the bottom of my bag”.  Arm hooks you with that beautiful vocal and composition; the lyrics show some emotional vulnerability and strength-against-the-tide.  A number that stands up to repeated assaults- a song that never seems to lose any of its appeal- it was a confident and impressive track from The State of Georgia.

   The Beast was released a year ago and carries on from Arm.  The two tracks share D.N.A. yet The Beast shows new inspiration and light.  Those haunting and spirited strings are all here and present:  Making sure the song has grandeur and passion; they combine with spiked and exhilarating electronics.  Harder and more forceful than Arm; you get a dizzying array of strings, electronics and beats.  The song has a quiet-loud dynamic that is centred around a committed and beautiful vocal.  Our heroine asks “Will you love me when the sky is grey?” and you have another track that looks at commitment and love.  The beast inside our lead can be vanquished by devotion and faith- her man standing by her and easing the burdens.  Warning not to “let it out”- the beast inside her- you have a Jekyll and Hyde switch.  When flying and posing questions; the vocal is light and tender.  When the images of beasts and emotions are unleashed you get a more direct and assaulting charge.

Given the quality and consistency; it is no surprise Stay Awake is a gem.  The song perhaps strays away from orchestral territory- the vocal is sharper and more concentrated; the composition straighter and tighter- and shows another dimension to The State of Georgia.  The track’s themes are more positive and redemptive.  Our heroine saw a face and “time stood still” with the rest of the world falling away.  Rushing and Disco-inspired beats create funkiness and a driving song that gets the feet tapping.  Alive, alert and pulsating:  Stay Awake is a song that has that mainstream appeal whilst retaining its huge credibility and uniqueness.  The swirling electronics recall legends of the ‘80s- Prince and Michael Jackson stand out- and has a very modern sensibility.  Our heroine stays awake just to ensure (her subject) will be okay.  A song that shows heart, tenderness and thoughtfulness:  It appeals for so many reasons and has tremendous nuance.  You find yourself revisiting the song to get inside that effusive and hypnotic composition; the tight and punchy beats- everything comes together superbly.

The development and change between tracks- a natural progression and range- show different sides to an artist that keeps on getting better and more confident.  No Man’s Land recalls some of the early-days sounds and some more recent efforts.  What you get is a song that will be familiar to established fans- there is no big departure or about-face- but will hook new listeners in with its directness and layers.

Beginning with a haunting piano; our heroine looks at a figure “in no man’s land”.  Crossing Florence and the Machine with Tori Amos; you have early moments that mix low-pitched seriousness with beautiful multi-tracked voices.  The instantaneousness of the song cannot be overlooked:  Instantly you are hooked in and invested in the story.  The song looks at this heroine being in a bad place having has her friend taken away.  The State of Georgia questions God and why so much is thrown at one person- the unfairness and casual cruelty that has befallen a great human.  I sense the song is inspired by real-life events- something so particular and unique cannot be fictional in my mind- and it will be interesting to hear the origins of the song.  Clearly, a friend has been affected and dented by the capriciousness of life.  Whatever the circumstances behind tragedy and the unhappiness- illness or accident; whatever the reasons- you have a song that gets inside the heart and evokes response instantly.  Keeping the composition reverent and respectful- it is a dignified and emotive coda that backs the lyrics- few listeners will be unaffected by those early exchanges and emotions pouring out.  The song’s heroine is falling from a great height- any cushion that is placed beneath her will not make any difference- and you get a real sense of harrow and sadness emerge.  I have mentioned Tori Amos and Florence Welch early on.  The former is an idol (of Jakubiak) and her piano-and-voice combination puts me in mind of Amos’ best work.  The soulfulness and bare compositions (we see on No Man’s Land) have tonal comparisons with Little Earthquakes– the U.S. legend’s 1992 debut album.  The State of Georgia possesses a similarly striking mix of soul-bearing and directness.  Whereas Little Earthquakes was a personal album- that looked at Amos’ struggles and issues- we have a song that is no less personal and affecting.  With its sound in the early-‘90s; that voice brings in recollections of Florence Welch and her striking tongue.  Away from comparisons and other artists you have a musician with a unique direction and sound- one who recalls legends and great singers without utilising them too heavily.

No Man’s Land continues its quest and reveals new insight.  Few artists speak to God and address religious matters in music- being an atheist I hardly go out my way to find God in music- but it is rewarding finding an artist that does not simply do what everyone else is doing.  Our lead looks to the skies and asks why a divine creator would allow such tragedy to befall a person.  That struggle-against-faith- that questions whether God could exist given the cruelty that plagues the world- shines through in a song that seems like a confession or exultation.  With soul bared and the emotions crying out; the funereal/majestic piano- that has shades of Radiohead’s Amnesiac– perfectly scores lyrics that pose questions that need answering- the fact is; they will not be answered.  Our heroine looks up but gets no reply or sound:  She is trying to discover justice or insight but is received with silence and emptiness.  It is clear a lot of effort and time has been invested in the song.  The vocal has that gorgeous mix of Amos, Welch- with Jakubaik’s unique style- whilst the composition flourishes, dives and seduced.  The piano is hugely impressive and produces a wealth of emotions and ideas.  With the chorus reinforcing the pertinent questions- why would a loving deity not protect a good soul- you have a song that transcends religious boundaries and has a universality and intelligence.  We have all been in that situation where a friend or loved-one has been taken from us or experienced huge hardships.  It never seems just or right that life is so indiscriminate and callous.  When good people are dealt a bum hand, we always go looking for answers and explanation.  Our heroine has been scarred by this tragedy and cannot make sense of this fact:  The chorus reinforces that desperation and anger felt.  This is a very human track that does not selfishly concentrate on love- the over-worn sentiments that so many songwriters favour- and looks at something troubling and unfair.  The song’s subject has lost a friend- curious whether Jakubiak is using herself as the central figure; having lost a friend- and you get a noticeable rise into the second half.  The chorus gets more intense and that vocal is layered to create something gospel-like and explosive.  Following that, the piano becomes more brooding and impassioned; the percussion slams and the intensity grow.  Swirling around enraptured and crying-out vocals; the composition matches that fever-pitch emotion to create enormous force and atmosphere.  No listener will be able to ignore the song’s crashing waves and hurricane magnitude.  Allowing emotions to reach their height- as no answers have been provided still- you get caught off guard by that rise and build.  The vocals are especially impressive- they mix inside one another and create something transcend- whilst that piano builds and builds.  Such a busy and layered song- elements of ‘80s Pop with modern-day Indie; Amos et al into the agenda- and you have to go back to the song to get to grips with things fully.  It is clear a woman has had her life torn apart; whoever that is I am not sure.  I keep thinking of Jakubiak speaking in the third-person:  A direct friend of hers has been scarred and this is her response to such unfair and harsh circumstances.  Whatever the true origins of No Man’s Land; it is a song that epitomises the diversity and quality in music.

Whether the track will lead-off Swallows & Roses– or will be further down the running order- it is going to be wonderful to hear the rest of the album.  If this is a taster of what we can expect then we are in for a huge treat.  Few artists have such a way with words as Jakubiak.  Addressing something personal and harrowing can be difficult to translate into music that will appeal to the masses.  Compelled by her heroines and heroes- Tori Amos seems the most relevant name to bring in again- you get a song that is the result of intense work and passion.  Each element and component works with one another and drives the song forward.  Lee Smith provides guitar, bass and drum and makes a huge contribution to the song.  Partnering with Jakubiak; the duo seamlessly blends and augment the other.  The intuition and kinship between the players result in a composition that has such depth, imagination and spark.  From haunted and tender piano to fizzing and explosive percussion:  This is a song/sound that more musicians should be doing.  Lee and Jamie Lockhart recorded and produced the song and have done a great job.  They have not changed The State of Georgia’s sound and allowed her to provide personality and her own voice, unfettered.  Were they to come in and change everything- make her sound like every other artist- you would be disappointed with the song.  Understanding how good and intuitive she is; they have simply added polish and guidance to ensure No Man’s Land is the best it can be.  What you have here is a song with resonance, nuance and startling breadth.  It is no minor compliment to say this song could rival the best from Little Earthquakes– and the brilliance Tori Amos shows across that record.  An accomplished and wonderful work from one of our brightest and best artists.

Since her earliest recordings, I have been a fan of The State of Georgia and the terrific music.  Jakubiak is blossoming as an artist and seems to become more confident and assured as time goes on.  Roses & Swallows is an album that will see her pick up new fans and fresh venues call on her.  It will be great seeing just where she plays and what feedback will be gained.  No Man’s Land is a typically special and memorable from one Yorkshire’s finest artists.  There is a lot of competition and variety in music, so standing out is always a huge challenge.  As I stated up top; it is not just good enough turning up and throwing something out to the world.  There are those musicians that do not understand how important it is to be original and differ yourself.  From Pop’s tired and predictable clan- I shall mention no names but we all know the type- to the anodyne and robotic Dance tracks- there is an alarming amount of horrendous music blighting the landscape.  The bands and their music- the all-male variety is particularly popular- have the ear and eye of the music press and are a necessary force.  Even in the band arena, there are too many examples of musicians that just want to sound like someone else.  Those acts that are tipped for big things- appearing on polls and radio stations- go the extra mile and recognise the need to get inside the brain and elicit fresh emotions.  Too often I hear music and a new artist come through and find myself tired and unaffected.  The song(s) will not stay in the mind and there is a definite lack of nuance and repeatability.  The most affecting and memorable tracks I have heard in the last few months have been from (predominantly) female solo artists.  Whether it is an arresting voice or stylish blend of genres:  The girls of music are showing more courage and intelligence than their male peers.  Whether this imbalance corrects itself this year- there are a few cool male acts that could steal focus- I am delighted to discover The State of Georgia in splendid voice.  One of those musicians that will get to the mainstream eventually- she has hometown support and a solid fan-base around the U.K. – No Man’s Land is a stunning track.  Make sure you take time out to listen to it- and check the music video out too- and see one of our most exciting artists do her thing.  Roses & Swallows is the result of hard work and a lot of graft.  The fans have got behind The State of Georgia and shown faith and love for a musician that improves and reveals fresh insight with every release.  Before closing this, it is worth coming back to the variety of solo artists available; a bit about Yorkshire- where The State if Georgia will be headed.

I have alluded to some terrific young solo acts coming through:  It seems we could see a lot of stunning moments emerge in 2016 and some long-term stars emerge.  I love the likes of Billie Marten and Alessia Cara and what they are doing:  Two solo artists with very different sounds but immense promise.  Away from the mainstream-tipped artists, there’s a wealth of prosperous musicians coming in under-the-radar.  Perhaps the one-dimensional and simplistic artists have their market and necessity- they seem to resonate with a certain core- but I will never embrace what they do.  It is those that go deeper and put more thought into music that will always win me over.  I understand how many acts are playing right now- and how hard it is to be distinct- but it does not take a monumental effort to be original whilst being inspired by other acts.  I feel too many musicians are going for easy recognition and cheap acclaim.  Those daring enough to take the time to forge something original are those that will obtain longevity and respect.  The State of Georgia- with the help of musicians and producers- is an act that puts so much heart and passion into her music- hardly surprising her fan numbers are growing.  Ensuring her Pop-based songs do not come across too familiar and run-of-the-mill; other genres and ideas are blended around a singular and impressive voice.  No Man’s Land is a teasing and tender insight into what Swallows & Roses will provide.  Romance and introspection will sit alongside personal revelations and uplifting moments.  Influenced by everyone from Kate Bush and Tori Amos- two of music’s most innovative artists- you get little hints of each inside Jakubiak’s captivating tones.  When the official video arrives for No Man’s Land– in the next couple of days- make sure you have a watch and see the visuals behind the music.  Dive into a song that sees one of our brightest stars progress and shines without hindrance.  Yorkshire keeps its reputation ablaze- for producing wonderful artists- and it is a county that always amazes me.  The diversity and quality is only matched by consistency and originality.  Perhaps it is the landscape or the communities there; maybe the support musicians give to one another- whatever it is, more people should look to Yorkshire for guidance.  Congratulations to The State of Georgia on the progress that has been made.  Clearly the fans and followers have faith in the music and this has resulted in an album that will please existing supporters and bring in fresh ears.  I cannot wait to see where Georgina Jakubiak goes and where the music takes her- perhaps international gigs or some spots in the capital.  Whatever comes around, two things can be guaranteed:  The crowds will adore the new music and…

THE young artist will continue to amaze.



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