- Liar’s Day
- David Jacobs-Strain
The first time that I listened to “Liar’s Day” I was intrigued. The second time I was captivated. The third time I was mesmerized.
David Jacobs-Strain is a singer-guitarist from Eugene, Oregon, who has in this album paid homage to the blues while touching the fringes of rock, folk, and even country. Most of the songs, 8 of the 11 penned by Jacobs-Strain, adhere to the soul of the blues despite leaving its 12-bar classic confines. Although he cites Taj Mahal as his “touchstone,” the faint influences of a myriad of country blues legends can be heard in the album, but Jacobs-Strain puts his own unique stamp of artistry on the final product.
The title tune opens the album; it’s mid-tempo and features evocative guitar, haunting back-up vocals, and the excellent bass and especially drum support which appears throughout. It’s followed by a Mississippi Fred McDowell song that has the driving, irrestible beat and infectious repetition of that Hill Country legend. “Rainbow Junkies,” on its heels, deploys Jacobs-Strain’s stellar slide guitar prowess and outstanding drumming by Joe Vitale.
The variety continues with a number of songs which lament past or impending romantic break-ups: “Say It to My Face” is scornful as well as mournful and sounds like Jimi Hendrix modulated through Jimmy Thackery (high praise indeed); “Don’t Have a Choice,” with its sparse piano accompaniment by album producer Kenny Passarelli, showcases Jacobs-Strain’s soulful guitar playing and smooth, passionate vocals. In fact, the singing throughout is superb.
After a rendition of Robert Johnson’s “Traveling Riverside Blues” which is reminiscent of a Bob Dylan – Al Kooper – Steven Stills collaboration, we get one of the stand-outs of the disc, “Black Cat at Midnight,” a slow, bluesy premonition of romantic disappointment. Two songs of almost spoken vocalization follow, with sparse but splendid guitar and organ instrumentation. The album ends on another high note: “Old Tennis Shoes,” a dirge-like cry of abandonment with a hint of country flavor which skirts the border of mawkishness but doesn’t cross it; it brought genuine tears to my eyes.
The guy has a terrific voice, plays great guitar, has excellent taste in fellow musicians, and writes moving songs. Highly recommended.
[This review originally appeared on the BluesWax Web site.]