How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
The contemporary blues environment combines a traditional manner of storytellin' with up-to-date elements that ring true at first listen. David Jacobs-Strain delivers his message with convincing authority. Surrounded by a band that features blues harp and fiddle, exotic percussion and fiery keyboards, the singer/guitarist brings it home. His slide guitar work stands out as one of the best.
Jacobs-Strain has been playing guitar since age nine. But that was only twelve years ago. At 21, he's in his third year at Stanford University.
The bluesman's originals dig into today's societal standing. He deals with issues common to all of us. Like folk artists in the '60s, he knows what's on our minds and sings about it. Our fears and our heartaches are laid bare. It's comforting.
An emotional singer, Jacobs-Strain communicates easily. Like the boy next door, he tells it like it is. The session lets his voice take center stage. Blind Willie Johnson's "Soul of a Man" allows for a return to the roots of blues storytellin', with the acoustic sounds of washtub drum, soulful harmonica, clinking chains, and earthy background vocals. Jacobs-Strain's slide guitar tells the story as well as his vocal picture does, however, as he relates with bottleneck efficiency. He follows that soulful piece up with an instrumental "Yelapa Breakdown" that takes his audience off on a different adventure. Through his music, this young singer/guitarist has seen the world from many angles. His recommended blues album speaks well for his generation and ours.
Track Listing: Kokomo Blues; Ocean or a Teardrop; The Girl I Love; Sleepless Dream; Take My Chances; Soul of a Man; Yelapa Breakdown; Shoot the Devil; Earthquake; Illinois.
Personnel: David Jacobs-Strain- vocals, guitar; Anne Weiss- vocals; Joseph Peter Burtt- kora, vocals, percussion; Joe Craven- fiddle, mandolin, oud; Kenny Passarelli- bass, Hammond B3 organ, Fender Rhodes electric piano, percussion, vocals; Joe Filisko- harmonica; Danny Click- guitar; Tim Stroh- drum loops; Kendrick Freeman- drums, djembe, congas; Mark Clark- drums.