“We liked it, but we were drunk,” the members of Smoke & Jackal– the side project of Kings of Leon bassist Jared Followill and Mona frontman and guitarist Nick Brown– said of their initial reaction to their red wine-fueled, ego-free EP, which the two recorded over the course of a week in Brown’s Nashville home studio. Considering the Followill family band is known for its fair share of drama and Mona has long been relegated to KOL’s massive shadow (NME once called them Princes of Leon), it’s nice to hear Followill say of this collaboration, “We just talked about each other’s ideas, neither one of us got our feelings hurt. It just worked.” Cute.
This six-song EP was intended as a more mellow listening experience (“We wanted it to be driving music.”). In that sense, it’s a success given the anchored, coiled basslines of “Fall Around” and “No Tell” that make for a perfect cruise in solitude. On “You’re Lost”, Brown channels Bono’s vocals on the chorus, which is quite fitting as he’s revealed his dubious quest to be bigger than the U2 singer himself. And with a fuzzy guitar in tow, “Lost” best supports the band’s aforementioned affinity for the record, unlike sleepier moments on “Roadside” and “Save Face”, which leave a third of this EP in a sappy, sleepy territory that begs for a spin through Aha Shake Heartbreak or Because of the Times, instead.
Considering the duo claims “the whole point was to have a stress-free outlet,” and each have albums due from their much-louder parent bands next year, it would appear as if Smoke & Jackal is far more concerned with play than work, and for that, touché to these Tennesseans.
Essential Tracks: “You’re Lost”