Wil Pritchard has been recording under the name Jaffro since 2014 but I saw him for the first time this year through his opening turn at the Vanishing Point night in South East London’s Ivy House pub. Jaffro sings in both Welsh and English and his work encompasses electronic and experimental work such as ‘Mwy’ or the genre jumping EP Tick Tock Pendulum Bang Bang which features out and out folk alongside tracks from the outskirts of reggae and punk. But this 2-track EP is tune-driven and perfectly showcases the amazing voice of this multi-instrumentalist.
‘Mwy Mewn Meddwl‘ sits on a simple drum part; a metronome over which a rhythmic ukulele drives the beat like a toy box Bo Diddley. A squelchy keyboard bass line sits underneath popping marshmallow depth charges all enveloped by a sliding, warning-siren, keyboard. The backing reminds me of Prince at his minimal best; never overloading a track but letting the simple backing of a drum machine, synth-bass and guitar support the tune and allow the melody to soar; and you can’t drown a voice this good in a busy arrangement. The quality of Wil’s voice is reminiscent of the lighter end of Robert Plant; it has a strength and lack of affectation which allows it to avoid folk clichés.
‘Know What You Mean‘ has a hymnal feel as the keyboard swarms like a pipe organ. This is a cryptic sermon on the meaning of something (life, sense of self, living in the moment?) with a repeated mantra of “I figured it out, I figured it out, I know what you mean”. To me there is the feel of early Human League songs like ‘Being Boiled’ or Scritti Politti’s ‘Lions After Slumber’ and the memory jog came from Wil’s commonality with the clarity of tone of Scritti’s singer Green Gartside.
Both songs sit as a perfect duo and became instant earworms, pulling me back to my Bandcamp page to listen again and again. So, to paraphrase, I think I figured it out and would encourage you to give yourself over to the magnetic pull of his voice. In the words of the man himself “Ma’ mwy, Ma’ llawer mwy, I mi”.
Jaffro plays Vanishing Point again on 5 September but check the VP page nearer the time to double check.