The biggest disservice you could do Just Jack would be to approach his debut album by pigeonholing him as a follower of the Streets. Sure, they’re both white guys from the United Kingdom who speak observationally about their surroundings in a frisky accent, but that’s where the similarities end. Just Jack’s one-man operation — real name, Jack Allsop — culls more from soul entities like Jill Scott and singer-songwriters like Jack Johnson than it does from hip-hop influences. There’s a basic beats background to The Outer Marker, but the music is on the mid-tempo mellow side. Excellent use of strings is made on “Heartburn” and “Eye to Eye,” giving depth to the minimal but tight bedroom-style production. And the drum ‘n’ bass infusion on the soul-baring “Triple Tone Eyes” provides perfect accompaniment to the song’s emotional content.
As for the rapping, Allsop’s flow is unassuming and nonconfrontational, as if he were sitting next to you on the couch at a civilized party with pleasantly buzzed people in attendance. Only falling into rhythmic “rapping” during the choruses, he mostly chooses to simply but effectively speak the truth in a mature and direct fashion. Dubious borrowing from the Cure on “Snowflakes” aside, The Outer Marker has fashioned a unique niche for itself. The key is to allow it to exist there, without attempting to ascribe other artists’ music to it.