This post was originally published in October 2018.
Starting out with a long slow burn, and channeling the type of deep language I am used to hearing from Josh Ritter - that truly American language of dusty roads, and wide open spaces, and hazy memory - Jacob McCoy stacks them deep, and stays true to a countrified Americana that feels big, heartfelt, and vital:
“What did you carry
inside your coat?
Was it love or was it drugs
Or was it both”— Jacob McCoy
Questions, the new full-length recording from Jacob McCoy, is available now.
Jacob McCoy comes to us from Tulsa, OK, where he ran a Kickstarter campaign to fund his latest creation. We can thank the good people of the internet for coming together to support this Nashville transplant. He certainly brings a Music City attitude to his new Tulsan identity: a little bit slick, and a little bit serious, peppered with a steely wisdom-of-the-plains. Questions, the lead track, sets a loquacious tone for the entire listen, and you come quickly up to speed on the poetic mastery of McCoy’s lyrics.
Make You Mine, the next track, is a simple acoustic back and forth, but the roots band elements add a southern rock sensibility to the list of influences, and it brings the conversation into pop territory with some really strong harmonies. Freight Train feels like an instant hoedown classic; it has that requisite stomp, the lovers’ conversation, and the handclaps. By the time you get to track 4 - All I Need: the energy is picking up, the shoes are off, and all of a sudden we are slowing down. It’s a lesson we will learn over the course of the recording: we didn’t know what we were missing; and most of us don’t know what we want. The voice and lyricism here will remind you how easy it is to be free - you just have to let go of your expectations.
Maybe that’s what we are doing here: riding with our ears in a boat on the river of McCoy’s life, listening to his heart making sense of it all. It is the sound of movement, of migration, of difficult choices, and easy ones; the sound of love, and after-the-fact analysis, painted with the brush of poetry and steel-string guitar.
“I’m learning your patience
I’m learning your grace
I’ll keep moving towards you now
as long as it takes”— Jacob McCoy
Track 5 - Iona (Forevermore) emerges as the first full chamber-pop opus, the majestic high-drama and binary dynamics creating an emotional ebb and flow that really delivers on a message of true love. It encapsulates the risk and reward of a relationship in its folds, in the direct language from heart to page, and in the beautiful vulnerability of deep commitment. Iona (Forevermore) is as self-affirming an ode as love has ever had.
From the next track Cat and Mouse, we get yet another facet of this roots songwriter: the mid-tempo indie rock what-if - more piano-heavy, with B3 and a busier bass line, and a little bit of falsetto for the hook. Don’t Blame Me brings us back to Tulsa, with a straight country-rock feel, and sets us up for an introspective return to chamber pop from Jess. Here, McCoy finally gives away his lovers’ temperament, and lays himself bare:
“Jess, wherever you are in this world
hope you know you’re still my girl
my love, always will be
Jess, how did you know when I left
that you’d never see me again
my love, you knew best”— Jacob McCoy
And that’s where McCoy leaves us: in the nuzzle of old regret, wondering out loud to the world. The next track Got A Hold On Me retreats into the generality of a nameless woman; and Rear View Mirror is, as it sounds, a personal retrospective. Even a few songs later, the double-punch of Iona and Jess will leave you remembering McCoy’s loves, as if they were your own. And that is the closest thing to love that a memory can give you.
McCoy’s track Cat and Mouse is featured on our Roots Collection playlist.
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