CD REVIEW: Jacob Latham - Midnight Train (EP)
by: Cyrus Rhodes
Label: Independent Artist
Genre: Americana, Rock, R&B, Folk
Sounds Like: Counting Crows, Bob Dylan, Cracker, Gin Blossoms, Buddy Miller, Oasis
Technical Grade: 7/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 7/10
Weakness: Mix (Drums and Cymbals), No Release Date, A few winded songs, EP release
Jacob Latham is a folk/rock musician hailing from Bloomington, Indiana. Though still in his teens, Jacob is already a... seasoned performer, appearing on stage since he was 13, playing shows all over the Midwest with his family band, dazzling crowds with his eye-popping mandolin and harmonica solos, and heartfelt singing. ... His latest EP “Midnight Train” was released in 2013.
The CD kicks off the ground nicely with Track 1, “Pay Attention to the Rain” a heartfelt flowing ballad that serves up an earthy guitar-driven groove, meshed against a walking bass line, effective harmonies, and a soulful melody from Latham. Track 2, “Where Do We Go From Here” shifts gears a bit with a steady flowing rhythm and well placed Americana-Folk fretwork and ambience painted against a grand slam chorus, making for an impressive follow-up statement. Track 3, “Midnight Train” is another impressive groove that dishes out a rock steady R&B rhythm and great vocal harmonies against a grand slam chorus that flows and ebbs its way through to motional fruition. The EP makes a strong first impression, dashing out 3 very solid songs in a row. The musicianship involved is above the bar. I would classify this music as classic Pop/Americana, with brief touches of Modern Country, and even Saloon Jazz and R&B. Latham’s music is reminiscent of classic Bob Dylan, Counting Crows, and Oasis. Along the way you will notice lush instrumentation with Fiddles, Harmonica, Organ, Banjo, Trumpet, Pedal Steel, Rhythm Guitar, well placed Piano, sporadic Percussion, impressive Organ, and lush harmonies all built upon a ‘thick as a brick’ rhythm section. What I like the most about Latham and his band, is how well they seem to groove together, testament to hundreds of hours of writing and rehearsal time no doubt. Now turning our attention over to Latham. As for his vocal abilities - well he’s a great advent for the Singer/Songwriter genre. His voice goes down smooth and fills the space peacefully and unobtrusively with a timbre that is infectious. I might add he takes some impressive vocal risks indicating to me a confident vocal ability. All songs are extremely well crafted and consistent across the board - World Class Songwriting. This EP teaser from Jacob Latham delivers 5 solid timeless tracks all providing musical enjoyment filled with strong musical variety and diversity. The music of Jacob Latham has everything you would expect from a world class musical production. From the epic “Don’t Let Them In” to the perfect and heartfelt finale, “John Brown” this EP has something for just about everyone.
Some aspects of the mix sound a bit of kilter. The drums (snare drum and cymbals especially) sound extremely thin, tinny and extremely amateurish on a few tracks. I’m not even convinced they were even recorded properly regardless of a mix – clear as mud. For the record this was a huge miss step. There’s no release date anywhere on the CD? I also typically deduct 1 star for EP releases. The full-length release is a more complete snapshot to judge an artist or band by at any given point in time. All songs over 4 minutes tend to drag you to the finish line.
From start to finish “Midnight Train” by Jacob Latham is an impressive collection of music. The songwriting is gold standard – full of consistent musical experiences, each one possessing a unique personality, flair, and signature groove. Note for note, song for song, there isn’t really a weak piece in this entire catalog. The writing and playing abilities of Latham and company are rock solid. The melodies and harmonies are well crafted, and the lyrical content is packed to the hilt with good old-fashioned conventional wisdom. At the end of the day Jacob Latham brings the mojo, and is clearly a marquee talent and top shelf songwriter. I look forward to checking out the full length CD soon!