Terence Jack is just a chill guy from a Vancouver suburb. He finds comfort in the gentle calm of the ocean and wishes he surfed more. West coast best coast, he once told me. (No, he didn’t, but I imagine he’d silently agree.) After making music for years with other bands, he has chosen to pursue a strictly solo career for a practical reason: “I don’t have to worry about the band splitting up.” He still acknowledges the value of collaboration and sings endless praises about the other talents on his newest EP release, Never Get Back, including Cameron Stephens, Jeremy Appleton, Djavin Bowen, and Thomas Hoeller. But you can sense Jack’s freedom in these songs.
In fact, Jack rejects any figurative constraints on his work. The Canadian DIY and indie music scenes have been exploding in the recent past, due in part to programs like the publicly funded Creative BC, but “there’s many different circles that cross-over in the Vancouver scene,” Jack told me. “If you’re actively playing and watching music then the scene gets smaller and smaller.” In a community so tightly knit, what good is it to pile more buzzwords onto an already oversaturated industry? You’ll never see the full picture while distracted by things like arbitrary notions of genre.
Jack described the process of making his single “Errors” as one where he “succumbed to the poppiness” of it, as if it were an unstoppable force. And it may well have been, but his acquiescence was begrudging. When it comes to debates on the worth of genre categorization, the one over the term ‘pop’ reigns supreme; it comes from the word “popular,” but that hasn’t been it’s denotation for some time now in the music industry. In some indie circles, the term has even become a slur. Many reasons can justify an aversion to pop, but Jack really just wants to avoid the negativity. “We chose to let the song write itself and come out however it sounds best,” he explained. “Nothing profound about it or self serving, just writing music, and recording it because it’s what we love to do.”
If there was one word I could use to describe Never Get Back, it would be tender. Rumbling out the gates with a Black Keys-esque single, the release twists to reveal unspoken desires, then nears catharsis by the end. His vocals are deep like Justin Vernon’s, where some moments even sound like outtakes from For Emma. A steel guitar slides in at pivotal moments on tracks like “Lay It On the Line” and the title track as well, establishing a folk rock energy that blossoms into something truly heartfelt.
I’m easily impressed by the choral ooh’s featured throughout the EP, and coupled with his songwriting style, his music becomes enchanting. Each coo carries a different weight – my personal favorite appears in the refrain of “She Flies Down South” – but all are the foundation of many an earworm. Additionally, Jack is a pleasantly vague songwriter, in the way that pop songs somehow relate to every type of failed relationship everyone has ever had. Each lyric is crafted with unique poignance, ushering in familiar symbols and ambiguous actions to allow us to take the narrative and make it personal.
“All she wanted was a chance to prove you wrong
She flies down south
She saves herself”
Never Get Back is an evocative EP, to say the least. The six tracks were written over the period of a year, along with about fifteen others that did not get recorded. Yet with these few songs, we are still able to determine exactly what type of musician Terence Jack is at his core. He is independent in every sense of the word, and without anyone else calling the shots, his music has the chance to grow into something that new bands years from now will be judged against. I guess Harvey Dent was right: you either die an indie hero or or you live long enough to see yourself join the mainstream.
Words: Zoë Elaine
Stream Terence Jack’s Never Get Pack EP below. For news and tour dates, follow Terence Jack via his Facebook.