Friday, February 21, 2014

First Listen: Jake Klar "Rocks & Gravel EP"

Ok, I will just get this out of the way, Justin Townes Earle. Yes, its true, his travis picking style on a couple tunes and some of his phrasing is similar to JTE, but thats a good thing. A very good thing. Similarity, however, is where it ends. There is far much more going on here with Klar.

Equal parts old bluesy goodness and haunting, shuddering atmospheric dynamics I was made a fan within 30 seconds of listening to this EP. There is a certain hesitant swagger to the songwriter's singing and annunciation. He sings with purpose and strength, but there is something in the depths that gives his sound a bit of hesitance and reluctance to his voicings. He has something to say for sure, but there is still an endearing, delicate quality to his tone. And he is a great player as well.

The instrumentation is dirty, gritty and f***ing excellent. Right up my alley. Not too much shimmer and shine, but pro all the way. There is so much personality and presence in his performance and I really can't wait to catch him out live at a show. I think that is the pinnacle of well performed recording, the fact that I really desire to go catch him live because I think it will be equal or better than the experience that I have listening to the album.

Man, the whole 5 song collection is fantastic, but the opener feels different than the closer and in a
really wonderful way. It fits, it just simply shows the dynamics in arrangements and purposeful slight variations that the artist has presented for the audience. "Devil's Bread" (the opener) has a bit of that haunting, lonesome vibe to it. Gray pastels on a dreary day, a tweed jacket and a beat up suitcase, traveling down the road kind of a feel. I don't know how else to explain it, its just excellent and pulls me in. The EP takes you traveling and weaving through the tales until the final track "Ham & Eggs" really kicks you in the gut and wakes up your mind. You subconsciously are tapping your foot to the groove. Klar's vocal is on point and this is the most JTE-esque of the songs.

I am really happy I stumbled across this gent. He is truly an excellent find for any fan of blues, folk, old time, or just good music. I think it will be spinning this one for a while to come.

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