CD REVIEW: Jake Allen - Etherica
By: Cyrus Rhodes
Artist: Jake Allen
Label: Dharma Records
Genre: Rock, Progressive Rock,
Sounds Like: Jake Allen, John Mayer, Jack Johnson
Technical Grade: 9/10
Winded songs, excessive intro & outros
Michigan singer/songwriter Jake Allen releases his latest CD entitled Etherica in 2011 under Dharma Records. To quote Allen - Ultimately, Etherica is about triumphing over darkness even as the battle to understand it continues. He is one of those composers out there that is a one man band, or a single composer. Simply put he's kind of like Beck, Trent Reznor, or Thomas Dolby with respect to crafting the musical art form.
The CD kicks things off with “Ascension” a slow building into piece that flows & ebbs its way through to emotional fruition with its driving rock rhythm, melodic rhythm guitar, & hypnotic vocal vibe from Allen. Track 2 “Open Space” is an upbeat follow up piece that serves up synthetic rock groove against easy flowing guitar rhythms & hooky vocal melodies. Track 3 “Dinosaur” dishes out yet another thought provoking piece of music with rocking rhythm guitars, well-placed harmonies & catchy vocal hooks. The CD makes a solid first impression dishing out 3 impressive songs in a row. As the CD slowly unfolds I can hear many different musical textures reminiscent of such acts like John Mayer, Jack Johnson, & even a dash of Jeff Buckley – but for the record Allen's sound is extremely hard to pigeonhole. The music itself is an impressive blend of progressive rock & even has a progressive aftertaste that is extremely dynamic & melodic in nature. Allen’s voice goes down smooth & is full of passion, reckless abandon & bold honesty. The musicianship from Allen is world class & kudos goes out to his amazing solo guitar work & impressive drumming. Also present besides the 4 piece standard delivery you will notice impressive percussive accents, piano, & well placed keyboard accents layered along the way. The songs themselves are extremely dynamic, & progressive in nature. The songwriting is extremely creative & highly original. Those who enjoy off time rhythm sections & dynamic time changes will love this release. Each song possessing a unique personality, flair & signature groove. Many of the songs have a theatrical intensity about them making for a very entertaining listening experience. I especially like how the whole CD just flows across the ears song for song & note for note. From dynamic “Like a Feather” to striking “The Witness” to mesmerizing “Autumnal”to the melodic title track this CD has something for just about everyone. The CD ends with “Euphonic” the perfect finale statement for a CD of this caliber.
It’s hard to find any noticeable weaknesses with a production such as this. I would however offer up 2 items. It’s fair to say a few songs take too long to develop, with excessive intros, outros, & even musical meandering. It’s fair to say all songs over 4 minutes tend to drag you to the finish line.
Overall Etherica by Jake Allen is an extremely entertaining catalogue of music. It’s strong suit – the amazing amount of originality, creativity & musical diversity this CD has to offer. The production value is thick as a brick, & like the aforementioned I especially enjoyed the amazing musicianship & amazing flow & ebb quality to the catalogue. My hats off the Allen for taking all this on himself & pulling it off very well. All in all Jake Allen stands out from other artists with his unique signature sound & multitalented virtuoso.