With a knack for story-telling, Jacob writes lyrics that paint vivid images throughout the album, drawing creative inspiration from snap-shots of day-to-day life. During the difficult times of the pandemic lockdown, songwriting was one of the only creative outlets that kept Jacob uplifted and inspired to pursue his artistic endeavours. He would write over 50 new original compositions throughout the lockdown and was graciously awarded a grant by the Toronto Arts Council to remotely record and produce a full-length album of original folk songs. Realizing the importance of interconnection to the creative process, he began extensively collaborating with other artists through remote home-studio recording.
Jacob has graciously shared a track-by-track breakdown of the new album, taking a deep dive into the stories and inspirations behind each track! Check out what he has to say as you soak in the album below!
1. “Sadness Wears Her Prettiest Dress”
“Sadness doesn’t ever ask you, when’s a good time to arrive”
We all know the feeling, but it comes in so many different forms and magnitudes, rearing its head when we least expect. “Sadness Wears Her Prettiest Dress” is a song that puts character to and personifies an emotion we are all too familiar with. People often think of emotions in their primitive form of “positive” versus “negative,” but there’s really such a range of layers, tones and dimensions to any feeling; it’s never just so simple as black and white. This song explores sadness and its myriad of colours.
2. “Pictures in the Sand”
“All the things that you had planned fade like pictures in the sand”
This song was born out of a feeling of longing, distance, and coming to terms with changing times and plans. I think it’s easy to get wound up trying to realize a vision and feeling like you’ll never get there, but it’s so important to appreciate what we have in the moment and to be easily adaptable to any shifts around us. “Pictures in the Sand” features some beautifully haunting bowing from violinist Molefe Mohamid-Mitchell.
3. “Lake Scene”
“Red balloon floats above the waters, tiny boat drifts away so lonely.”
“Lake Scene” was inspired by an especially serene, rainy day during the summer of the pandemic lockdowns while hanging outside with friends at the lakeside. There was this red balloon floating over the water that day that just looked whimsical! The lyrics and melody took shape walking back home from the park in the summer rain.
“You’re a butterfly, you’re drunk and dreaming, Wake to find the heavens above are gleaming”
This song came to me on one of those days when everything seems to be going the wrong way. Sitting outside trying to unscramble my thoughts, I was suddenly struck by the most magnificent array of colours from a butterfly that floated past me out of the blue before disappearing from sight into the sky above. The momentary, beautiful flash of the butterfly’s wings immediately brought me out of my funk and restored what had been looking to be a glum day. Something about the delicateness and daintiness of butterflies inspired the Baroque/classical style of the song, which features the masterful playing of guitarist, Jared Higgins.
5. “Upside Down”
“Lately things are upside down, you’re walking on the ceiling”
As a kid, I used to love lying in bed and pretending like I’m walking on the ceiling; as I got older I learned it’s usually a better call to keep both feet on the ground. Sometimes it seems like our surroundings evolve quicker than we do. as though we’re just living life in suspended animation. “Upside Down” is a song that circles around the topic of how life can change so rapidly (sometimes on a complete whim) and how things often go completely backwards to how we expect.
6. “Fake Smiles, Artificial Laughs”
“Hello, hello, let your true colours show”
Even though most people generally aspire to be fully transparent with each other, it’s sometimes difficult to not bottle up certain thoughts and emotions, and we can act very differently depending on our surroundings. This tongue-in-cheek song reflects on this idea, comparing our complicated lives to a masquerade where we hide behind the security of anonymity.
“Sound of passing cars reminds you of waves”
There is something profoundly soothing about the sound and movement of waves: the calm and rage, the ceaseless ebb and flow, the moving tides, the incessant push and pull of wind against water… Waves are intrinsically connected to our everyday experience and to music, sound, light and life. This track features the heart-wrenching vocals of Kalyna Rakel, whose nonchalant style of singing brings the perfect amount of melancholy to this melody.
8. “Your Love”
“Your love is like a fast-food dinner, good right now but it’ll kill me later”
With a light irreverence, “Your Love” explores the less healthy aspects of a feeling we usually associate with the best of things. Like all emotions, love can be so multifaceted and complicated. This song points a joking finger at the heartburn that sometimes comes with it. I love the swampy vibes of the rhythm section on this track, featuring the warm, woody tones of Bret Higgins on the upright bass and the unique sound of a goat-nail rattle and mallets played by drummer Lowell Whitty.
9. “Road Kill Cafe”
“One eye closed, seems death is winking, as it waits to be picked up.”
I lived near a highway in Etobicoke for a short while. On some of my walks in the neighborhood it wasn’t uncommon to see a handful or more dead animals by the side of the road. This song was written after one such morbid walk around the block (R.I.P. wildlife). “Roadkill Cafe” introduces our special guest, Michael Eckert, on pedal-steel guitar – his swooping, ethereal textures added such a cool dimension to the imagery and text of the song.
10. “Grass Beneath Your Feet”
“There was a melody that you liked to hum, now you’ve grown silent and forgotten where you’re from.”
This is a song that dives into the feelings of loss, futility and desperation while distant memories of better times circle in the background. This arrangement really evolved over the course of recording, with the humming vocal parts (that were added later) and weeping strings interplaying with clarinet adding so much to the emotional vibe. It’s honestly such a treat to have my songs interpreted and reimagined by such an incredible group of musicians and artists!
“Fragile things, the delicate things, all the things in life that easily break”
This song was inspired by an old memory I had of myself as a child fooling around and accidentally breaking one of my sister’s porcelain dolls that had incredible sentimental value to her (and which she later spent many hours diligently gluing back together). That memory and the feelings it brought up sparked this song, which reminisces on the good and bad times, the things that are fleeting or that easily pass and break, and above all the peace we can find in the little things and in our quiet thoughts.
12. “Wasting Away”
“Sunshine disco, midnight blues, starry skies and pastel hues”
“Wasting Away” is a song that was born on a hot and lazy day in the summer while out in the backcountry enjoying the peaceful nature with my partner. It’s about being at peace with just letting go and relaxing, accepting things as they are and practicing patience. Things always have a way of lining up, even when it seems so unlikely! This sparse arrangement features the beautiful, angelic background vocals of Meagan Luchko intertwined with the soaring, moody pedal-steel guitar played by Michael Eckert. The simplicity and hopefulness of the song felt like a natural conclusion to the album.