It has to be said, Jespa had a pretty good 2010. Playing The Great Escape and Lockstock festivals, their first self-titled EP was nominated for Recharged Radio Annual Awards 2010, and they also received nominations for best song and best folk artists. To read a bit more about them, have a look at the 'Introducing' piece we wrote last May by clicking here.

Take A Stand, their second release, is at first listen more upbeat than their previous singles - leaning more towards 'Settle Up' than 'Orla'. However, this doesn't in any way mean that the emotion inherent in their music has been diminished; that much is obvious from the moment the chorus to 'Isobel' kicks in; "Isobel, my love wasn't meant to be broken". The upbeat nature of the music allows the listener to connect with the sentiment without feeling as though the lyrics are self-indulgent; not an easy thing to achieve, but Jespa do it very well.

'Minnesota Son', the second track on the EP, is a much darker song than I've come to expect from Jespa, but I love it. Leaning more towards country than folk, this track showcases Tony's voice exceptionally well, and the mandolin solo from James halfway through takes the latter part of the song into a faster, more upbeat version of the first half.

The final track, 'Southwold Harbour '96', is probably my favourite. I can't quite put my finger on why, but I could happily listen to this over and over again. Managing to be unbearably catchy while simultaneously tugging on your heartstrings, this song could come on anywhere and almost certainly lift the spirits of everyone in the room.

This release marks a change of direction for Jespa, in my opinion. The songwriting and musicality is as good as ever, but these tracks feel more 'polished' than their previous work. Based on the quality of this EP, they could certainly contend with a lot of the country/folk music that's out there at the moment, and I very much hope they go on to do just that. Keep an eye out for these guys in 2011.

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