With a sound reminding us of the likes of Syd Barrett’s Pink Floyd, The Who, and even Jethro Tull, the psych folk/rock vibe of Birmingham Alabama artist Jaco’s song ‘Shoe’ takes us back to a time when things were a lot simpler, if in reality not too different politically. The song is from Jaco’s album, ‘You Know’, released today June 19 on Cornelius Chapel Records.
Although best known for his work behind the drums of local Birmingham bands such as Vulture Whale, The Wes McDonald Plan and Ham Bagby, Jaco is a multi-instrumentalist, and ‘You Know’ is his first foray into the wider world as a solo recording artist. Possibly because of this, he takes the helm of pretty much everything on the album, even down to co-directing and editing the music videos – and in addition to providing the vocals, he plays guitar, keys, and drums, as well as co-producing and arranging the tracks.
Although drums, cymbals, and frenetic guitars take the forefront in ‘Shoe’, there’s also allowance for other instruments to have their time in the sun. Seemingly the most incongruent is the addition of a recorder (hence our thoughts being cast back to Jethro Tull) and yet it works; cleverly the video shows Jaco “whistling” while this is happening.
[edit: Jaco has come back to us and said:
Fun fact: the “recorder” solo as you assume, WAS ACTUALLY whistling!! It’s just two whistle tracks (high and low) combined. Try it at home- it really does sound like a recorder.]
The frenetic guitars are very Pink Floyd, in fact if listened to in isolation they could definitely have found their place in Pink Floyd’s ‘See Emily Play‘.
‘Shoe’ sees Jaco taking a break from the chaos of early 21st century life, and enjoying a stroll down memory lane, when times – on the surface at least – were simpler.
A closer examination of the lyrics shows us that he’s really in no denial of what it was like back then, he’s fully aware that life in Cold War USA was a time of much uncertainty and paranoia. Lyrics such as ‘To live a sleep-life under the table’ and ‘Secret operation forces / Bubbling up / For everyone to see’ conjure up an image of the constant threat of nuclear war (“duck and cover”) and J Edgar Hoover and the FBI picking up where McCarthy left off.
From the distance of time however, it feels like the 1960s was an idyll of endless summers, and the video for ‘Shoe’ helps us down this path.
Shot primarily in black and white, and described on YouTube as being “Filmed June 2, 2019 in downtown Birmingham, AL”, Jaco gets into the back of a car, where he’s left alone in his reverie, not wanting to be interrupted, driving through the deserted night time streets. Clips from 1960s home movies intersperse, providing the only colour in this otherwise crisp and stark video, a carefully curated vision of how life was, the dreamlike quality of the Super 8 film adding to Jaco’s pleasant thoughts. But the more things change, the more they stay the same, and it can’t be lost on anyone that we’re now in a period where the overweening political feeling across the world isn’t too dissimilar to what it was like back then; duck and cover everyone.
Watch the video for ‘Shoe’: