It’s not often we get to review the music of artists from Alaska. We’ve written about Paul Jacks before, who comes to us from Anchorage, the capital, whose long, bone-shatteringly cold winters, and closeness to active volcanos, make it a place highly likely to stir up creativity in even the most frozen of hearts.
Paul Jacks is has been making music for the past 15 years or so, the indie-pop singer, songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist has recently released his second official solo album, ‘In Other Words’, from which comes our review single, ‘Too Emotional’.
The first thing that strikes us about the song is just how buoyant it is. It’s upbeat, it’s retro, it takes us back to the 80s but with a modern sensibility. From the title one might presume that it’s a moody, depressing song but on the contrary, it’s got a high energy drumbeat that reminds us of the “coffee percolator” rhythms of productions by Stock, Aitken, and Waterman. In fact, the punchy opening beats are an almost exact match of Rick Astley’s ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’, as well as a synthy fragment which calls to mind Herbie Hancock’s ‘Rockit’. Lyrically and vocally however, it’s closer in style to that of Gary Numan, and even New Order.
‘In Other Words’ is the follow up to his 2018 debut solo album, ‘Defractor’. Prior to going it alone, Jacks has worked with the band Smile Ease, and its (fittingly named) spin-off combo, Asteroid.
Speaking of ‘In Other Words’, Jacks says,
“’In Other Words’ has ten songs which narrate a story of love lost, self-destruction, denial, longing, regret, shame, and, at the last moment, hope. For me, the album has a flow of levels that are cohesive in an artful way. It was partly recorded during the same period as ‘Defractor’.
“Where ‘Defractor’ felt like a reinvention, ‘In Other Words’ sparked its own unique navigation. There’s some very deep introspection on this album. I lost a close family friend to suicide last year and that sparked some of this album. I wanted to attempt something universal, a message that no matter how grim your situation looks, it’s gonna get better, and we can use art to heal ourselves and find a new awareness that we didn’t have before. I think that there’s a sense of closure and hope before this record stops spinning.”
‘Too Emotional’ is one of those multi-layered songs that causes you to pause and analyse it; to decipher the distinct layers, and to think about where you’ve heard it before. It’s at once new and familiar at the same time: it’s retro and modern; upbeat and yet covering deep subject matter. ‘Too Emotional’ is just that – it brings out the emotions of the listener and entices, confuses, and pleases us at the same time.
‘Too Emotional’ is from Paul Jacks’ forthcoming album, ‘In Other Words’, which is set for release on August 9. You can find out more about the artist online on his Facebook page, as well as Tritone Records.