Love Is Love is the latest release from New Zealand-dwelling songwriter and producer Simon Jackson. Jackson is a melodic rock specialist with an evocative sound influenced by The Beatles, Elton John, Tom Petty, John Mellencamp, Southern and Aussie rock. His songs are based around the acoustic guitar and Jackson’s own life experiences here on Planet Earth. The songs on Love Is Love were all written in the last few years and show Jackson to be a fine lyricist and musician who deftly finds the poetry in everyday situations. The title phrase “love is love” was lifted from one of Jackson’s close friends who uses it as a catchphrase, meaning no matter who or what somebody is, we all love the same way.
“Never Be Friends” is a poignant ex-wife/divorce song that deals with the complicated feeling of being so close yet ultimately so far away from someone you used to love. It’s also a wonderfully-produced bit of contemporary guitar pop that serves as a strong opener for the record and features the prime vocal chops of frequent Jackson collaborator Trav Bryant. Bryant sings most of the tracks on Love Is Love and has a sonorous, soaring set of pipes that fit Jackson’s material well. “Only Man Alive” is about a first love experience loaded down with personal baggage at a young age and how, despite it all, you still end up walking taller just because she cares. It’s a heartfelt and authentic cut that speaks honestly about the emotions of those times.
“Not Coming Over” is soul-shredding song about sitting with a friend going through a difficult breakup and waiting for someone who isn’t going to show up. It’s just guitar and voice but still hits hard and conveys the bleakness of a dead relationship perfectly. Jackson excels at writing songs like this that translate deeply personal moments into musical monologues that are relatable and engaging. Other great moments captured on Love Is Love include “Wrote It Down,” “We Don’t Fight,” and the title song “Love Is Love” that closes out the album. Simon Jackson is a better songwriter than most and is on a trajectory to have his music heard by a lot of people.
Fans of outstanding lyrical songs are going to want to keep Love Is Love on “repeat” for a good long while.